Interview with Konstantin Kosachev

The PACE has refused to consider the issue of U.S. missile defence bases in Europe during its session in Strasbourg. The head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the State Duma, Konstantin Kosachev, comments on this.

Russia Today: What reasons do you see behind PACE's refusal to consider the issue?

Konstantin Kosachev: This is rather a strange situation because this initiative has been recently supported by all the political groups and by the Bureau of the Assembly, so the voting in the plenary hall was supposed to be a formal one. I cannot recall any incident when such an initiative, once supported, was then denied by the Assembly. In my opinion, the real reason is that the outcome of this discussion could be rather uncomfortable for the U.S. and for the Czech Republic and Polish governments, because public opinion clearly opposes plans to deploy the missile defence systems in these two countries, and the Parliamentary Assembly could not ignore the existing state of public opinion. I have no proof for that, but I think that the U.S., which is not interested in having a discussion in this format, used their connections in different national delegations in order to cancel the decision of the Bureau. I feel sorry about that and we have already agreed with the members of other delegations including the Czech and the Polish ones, to resume the initiative during the next PACE session in January.

RT: Is there anything Russia still can do under the current circumstances?

K.K.: Definitely there is, because we do not believe that such an important issue is a matter that has to be considered just by military authorities, ministers of foreign affairs and other governmental bodies. This is too important a decision to be taken by these officials alone. We are absolutely sure that political control over upcoming decisions is needed. That is why the Russian State Duma is going to issue a special statement at its plenary meeting on Friday proposing colleagues in the Congress of the U.S., as well as in the national parliaments of the Czech Republic and Poland, to hold an immediate interparliamentary conference, probably to be hosted in Moscow, in order to discuss the issue on the parliamentary level. We will propose other countries that are interested in this discussion to send their observers to the conference. We hope this initiative will be accepted.

  • In July 2004 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia should pay four Moldovan insurgents including Ilya Ilashku who fought in Transdniesetr in the early 1990s a compensation worth about $US 1 MLN. Russian State Duma called the European Court's ruling “biased and politically motivated”.
  • The candidate elected from the For Human Rights in United Latvia party to the EP, Tatyana Zhdanok, was prohibited from participating in national elections by lustration laws on account of her membership in the Communist Party after 13 January 1991. In June 2004, the European Court of Human Rights issued a Chamber judgment in a complaint submitted by Ms Zhdanok protesting the move. The Court ruled that there was a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (articles concerning free elections and freedom of assembly and association) and awarded pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages to be paid to the plaintiff by the state.

RT: Moving on to a different issue now: the European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay three Chechen women 200,000 euros as compensation for the alleged violation of their rights. What do you make of that ruling?

K.K.: If we apply to the statistics of the number of applications to the European Court per capita, Russia is rather low on that list: we are on the 18th place among 46 member-states of the Council of Europe. But in case violations of human rights do take place, including the situation in Chechnya, we have nothing to do but to obey the decisions of the Court and we have always done that before. As a politician, I keep trying to explain to my colleagues that even those decisions which are not in favour of the Russian state, are always in favour of the citizens of the Russian Federation. They are not anti-Russian. We should definitely support the activities of the European Court of Human Rights because they are in the interests of Russia. But on the other hand, unfortunately, in some cases the Court itself does not avoid taking politically motivated decisions like in the well-know cases of Mr Ilashku in Transdniester, and Tatyana Zhdanok in Latvia. We do have our own vision of how the activities of the Court may be improved, and that is why we are still considering the option of ratifying the so-called 14th protocol to the European Convention of Human Rights. The decision has not been taken yet by the State Duma and I do not rule out the possibility that we would go further than that and propose to our partners in the Council of Europe to make some amendments to that protocol, so that it becomes acceptable for the Russian Federation and changes the activities of the Court for the better, not for the worse.