EU Parliament Condemns Kremlin’s Strong-Arm Politics

Arrest During the Moscow March of Dissent.  Source: grani.ruOn March 13th, the European Parliament adopted a new resolution on Russia. The document deplores the way the country’s March 2008 presidential election was handled. As the Sobkor®ru news agency reported on March 16th, the resolution also denounces the current regime’s persecution of its critics.

In part, the resolution decries the “disproportionate use of force” and violence used against demonstrators during March 3rd opposition protests known as “Marches of Dissent.” It demands that an investigation be mounted, and that those responsible be brought to justice, calling for the release of those protesters still behind bars. The Parliament also regrets the fact that Russia regards an electoral monitoring mission from the OSCE as interference in Russia’s internal affairs, and deplores the “illegal treatment of opposition candidates” in the election.

At its Strasbourg session, MEPs also called on Dmitri Medvedev, in his new capacity as president of the Russian Federation, to review the treatment of imprisoned public figures, including Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, “whose imprisonment has been assessed by most observers as having been politically motivated.”

The resolution was enacted in consideration of “increased pressure on opposition groups and non-governmental organisations to refrain from any activities directed against the president and the government, preventing the media from reporting on any such activities.”

It also notes that “democracy has been weakened in Russia, in particular by the government control of all major TV stations and most radio stations, the spread of self-censorship among the print media, new restrictions on the right to organise public demonstrations and a worsening climate for non-governmental organisations.”

The European Parliament also calls on Russia to foster the necessary conditions to create a new “Partnership and Cooperation Agreement” between EU member states and the Russian Federation, commenting that “that respect for the rule of law, democracy and human rights must be an important part of any future agreement with Russia.” The previous agreement expired in 2007.

Read the complete resolution here.