Doc. 8949

23 January 2001

Credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation

Report

Political Affairs Committee

Rapporteur: Mr Eörsi, Hungary, Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

I.       Draft resolution

1.       At the opening of the first 2001 part-session on Monday 22 January 2001, the credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation were challenged on substantial grounds in relation with the conflict in the Chechen Republic.

2.       The Assembly, having examined the issue, decides to ratify the credentials of the new Russian delegation.

II.       Explanatory memorandum by the Rapporteur

A.       Introduction

1.       At the opening of the present part-session on Monday 22 January 2001, the Chairman of the EDG Group challenged the credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation on substantial grounds in relation with the conflict in the Chechen Republic.

2.       He recalled that the Assembly suspended the voting rights of the Russian delegation in April 2000 on the grounds that Russia had breached the Council of Europe’s basic principles on human rights in connection with the conflict in Chechnya. As a report on “the conflict in the Chechen Republic – recent developments” (to be presented by Lord Judd on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee) will be discussed by the Assembly on Thursday 25 January 2001, the EDG Chairman argued that the decision on the credentials of the Russian delegation should only be taken in the light of this debate.

3.       The President considered that the challenge was in compliance with the Rules of Procedure. The Assembly decided, under Rule 8 (3) of Procedure, to refer the issue to the Political Affairs Committee for a report and to the Committees on Rules of Procedure and Immunities and on Legal Affairs and Human Rights for opinions.

B.       Relations with the State Duma since last April

4.       In response to the suspension of the Russian parliamentary delegation’s voting rights, the State Duma adopted a Declaration “on the position of the Parliamentary Assembly concerning the situation in the Chechen Republic”. In that declaration, the Duma deeply regreted the position adopted by the Assembly, which it considered unjust and unfounded. It stated that full-scale co-operation could only resume if the Assembly reversed its “discriminatory” decision. Since the suspension of the Russian parliamentary delegation’s voting rights the delegation has taken the position of not participating as such in the work of the Assembly and its committees until such time as their voting rights have been restored.

5.       Despite this position, working relations between the Assembly and the State Duma have continued:

-       Mr. Seleznev, President of the Duma, attended the Conference of Presidents of European Parliamentary Assemblies in Strasbourg on 5-6 May, and met with the President of the Assembly;

-       before the June Assembly’s part–session Mr. Rogozin wrote to the President of the Assembly informing him of the Duma’s recent activities concerning the Chechen Republic;

-       some individual members of the Russian delegation participated in the June and September part-sessions in a “personal capacity”, and the Russian delegation sent one of its members as an observer;

-       since last September some delegation members participated in the meetings of several committees, including in those of the Political Affairs Committee where the conflict in the Chechen Republic was regularly discussed;

-       the Duma helped to organise three fact-finding visits to the Chechen Republic and the North Caucasus region (of a Bureau Ad Hoc Committee in September 2000, of a delegation of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography in November 2000 and of the rapporteurs of the Political Affairs Committee and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in January 2001), as well as a number of meetings in Moscow;

-       before this January part-session, Mr Rogozin wrote to the President of the Assembly to inform him about the steps undertaken by the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to promote the implementation of the Assembly’s Resolution 1227 (2000) of September 2000 and the dialogue with the Parliamentary Assembly.

C.       The Assembly’s position on the relations with the State Duma as stated in texts adopted at June and September part-sessions

6.       In the June Resolution, the Assembly expressed:

-       its readiness to co-operate with the competent Russian parliamentary bodies in order to ensure the full respect of the Council of Europe’s standards in the Chechen Republic;

-       its wish that the Russian Federal Assembly would actively and substantially use its influence to improve the human rights situation in the Chechen republic and that, as a consequence, the voting rights of the Russian parliamentary delegation could be restored.

7.       In its September Resolution, the Assembly:

-       reiterated its determination to work with the competent Russian parliamentary bodies in order to ensure full respect for the standards and objectives of the Council of Europe;

-       supported the efforts of those members of the State Duma and the Russian delegation who were endeavouring to bring peace, democracy, human rights protection and stability to the Chechen Republic;

-       expressed hope that by the January 2001 part-session the progress would have proved sufficiently convincing for the Russian delegation to enjoy its full rights.

D.       Hearing on the situation in the Chechen Republic organised by the State Duma in September 2000 and follow-up

8.       The State Duma Commission on the Normalisation of Political, Social and Economic Situation and Protection of Human Rights in the Chechen Republic, created in April 2000, organised a hearing on the situation in the Chechen Republic on 21 September 2000 in Moscow. An Assembly delegation was invited and took part in this hearing.

9.       According to Lord Judd’s report from September 2000 (Doc 8840), “at the hearing it was very encouraging to note that most of the criticisms voiced by the members of our delegation during the meetings with government representatives regarding the action by those for whom they are responsible in the Chechen Republic was also expressed, sometimes powerfully, by the Russian parliamentarians. The keynote speaker, Mr Tkatchev, was particularly open in this respect, as were Mr Kadyrov and Mr Aslakhanov. The hearing turned out to be a useful and indeed impressive initiative, indicating that at least some of the State Duma deputies share our concern regarding the acceptability and effectiveness of the action by Russian authorities in the Chechen Republic. I strongly believe that we have to encourage the Russian Parliament to pursue its own efforts to improve the human rights and humanitarian situation in Chechnya”.

10.       Many of the recommendations adopted at this hearing coincided with those contained in the texts of the Assembly.

11.       The above-mentioned State Duma Committee held two follow-up meetings, on 3 November 2000 and 8 December 2000, at which its members questioned the state officials responsible for implementing the recommendations of the hearing. It also officially requested information from the Government on the implementation of these recommendations.

E.       Conclusion

12.       I fully share the opinion of Lord Judd that the overall situation in the Chechen Republic is not yet satisfactory, despite some encouraging developments. At the same time, the clear efforts of many members of the Russian parliamentary delegation to become a driving force to push for improvements in the Chechen Republic must be acknowledged.

13.       In the draft resolution presented to the Assembly by the Political Affairs Committee, Russia is required to take immediate and effective action to deal with the existing shortcomings. We must not give up our critical evaluation of the situation in the Chechen Republic, but I believe that the State Duma has increasingly become a partner in our efforts for change.

14.       I expect the State Duma to intensify its action aimed at re-establishing democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights in the Chechen Republic and, in this connection, participate actively in the joint mechanism between the Assembly and the State Duma proposed in the report of Lord Judd to be adopted during this part-session.

15.       Therefore, the Rapporteur proposes that the Assembly should ratify the credentials of the new Russian delegation.

Reporting Committee  : Political Affairs Committee

Reference to Committee : Ref 2562, 22 January 2001

Daft Report adopted by the Committee on 23 January 2001, with 5 abstentions

Members of the Committee : Mr Davis (Chairman), Mr Baumel (Vice-Chairman), Mr Toshev (Vice-Chairman), MM Adamia, Arzilli, Atkinson, Mrs Bakoyianni, MM Bársony (alternate : Mr Eörsi, Vice-Président), Behrendt (alternate : Mrs Lörcher), Berceanu, Bergqvist, Bianchi, Björck, Blaauw (alternate : Mr. van der Linden), Bühler, Cekuolis (alternate : Mr. Olekas), Clerfayt, Daly, Demetriou, Derycke, Diaz de Mera, Dokle, Dreyfus-Schmidt, Mrs Durrieu, Mr Evangelisti (alternate : Mr Brunetti), Mrs Feric-Vac, Mr Frey, Mrs Fyfe (alternate : Mr Rapson), MM Gjellerod, Glesener, Gligoroski, Gross, Gül, Hornues, Hrebenciuc, Irtemçelik, Ivanenko, Iwinski, Karpov (alternate : Mr. Zarubinski), Mrs Kautto, MM Kirilov, Kotsonis, Krzaklewski (alternate : Mr Adamczyk), Martinez-Casan, Medeiros Ferreira, Meier, Mota Amaral, Mutman, Mrs Nemkova, Mr Neuwirth, Mrs Ojuland, MM Oliynyk, Pahor (alternate : Mr. Jakic), Palmitjavila Ribo, Prisacaru, Prusak, de Puig, Mrs Ragnarsdottir, MM Rogozin, Schieder, Schloten, Selva, Sinka, Spindelegger, Mrs Squarcialupi, Mrs Stepová, MM Surjan, Taylor (alternate : Sir Chapman), Thoresen (alternate : Mr Simonsen), Timmermans, Udovenko, Vella, Weiss, Wielowieyski, Zuiganov,

N.B. The names of the members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics

Secretaries of the Committee : Mr Perin, Mrs Ruotanen, Mr Sich, Mrs Hügel-Maffucci