PACE REPORT SLAMS RUSSIA FOR LACK OF DEMOCRACY

Interfax News Agency
June 26, 2008
Russia

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has
named Russia among other European countries with weak democratic
institutions.

The resolution, made at the PACE's June session on Wednesday following
the debates on the state of democracy in Europe, suggests that Russia,
along with several other European nations, including Armenia, Georgia,
Ukraine and Moldova, conduct an electoral reform.

PACE believes that Russia has so far failed to create equal conditions
for election candidates, including equal and unbiased coverage of
election campaigns. Russia's failure to meet this requirement led
to the PACE observers qualifying the December 2007 parliamentary
elections as free, but unfair.

The report also criticized Russia's 7% parliamentary election threshold
and suggested that it be decreased.

Moreover, Russia, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, failed
to eradicate the practice of oppression and intimidation against
opposition candidates and their supporters, the report said.

Russia and Montenegro were criticized for the lack of proper separation
between the state and political parties and candidates.

Russia, Serbia and Ukraine were blamed for having the imperative
mandate in their national laws.

The Assembly reaffirms that the recall of people's representatives
by the political parties ("imperative mandate") is unacceptable
and inconsistent with the rule of law and the separation of
powers. Russia's rules of political parties' registration and its ban
on formation of electoral blocs coupled with the 7% election threshold
create a situation, which makes it very difficult for new and small
political parties to compete efficiently, the resolution said.

Russia, as well as other former Soviet republics, have yet to do a
great deal to increase the parliamentary control over the executive
power branch and to improve the system of checks and balances,
and to strengthen the judiciary's independence from other branches,
the Assembly said.

Censorship, persecutions, and imprisonment, intimidation of journalists
or even physical threats continue to occur in Azerbaijan and Russia,
it also said.

Russia is also among the countries, which still lack media pluralism
and have yet to create a genuinely public broadcasting service.

Meanwhile, head of the Russian delegation to PACE and Duma foreign
affairs committee chairman Konstantin Kosachyov told Interfax earlier:
There are no trouble-free countries in the Council of Europe, and in
some respects Russia looks much better than its partners.

MOSCOW. June 26 (Interfax) - Head of the Russian delegation to PACE
and Duma foreign affairs committee chairman Konstantin Kosachyov has
refuted allegations that the European Community put Russia on its
blacklists over its violations of the democratic standards.

Commenting on the report on the state of democracy in eleven countries,
including Russia, which was discussed at a PACE session on Wednesday
evening, Kosachyov said: Neither the report, nor the subsequent
discussion put Russia on any list whatsoever, given that the PACE
has no white or grey or black lists of countries.

Despite containing a lot of criticism, the report offered nothing
new apart from what was said earlier in respect of Russia, Ukraine,
Turkey, Serbia - all the eleven Council of Europe member states which
continue to be monitored, he said.

The report summarizes all the criticisms that were earlier voiced
against these countries, including Russia. Many of them are debatable
and many have to be accepted. But in my view, Russia does not look
too extreme compared to the other ten countries, Kosachyov said.