Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/russia : Meps, Activists Discuss Human Rights Situation in Russia

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/russia : Meps, Activists Discuss Human Rights Situation in Russia

Article excerpt

'It is very important that Europe looks beyond its economic and political interests when dealing with Russia,' said Svetlana Gannushkina, addressing members of the European Parliament's Sub-Committee on Human Rights on 21 November.

Gannushkina, member of the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, was invited, along with Vitaliy Yaroshevsky, Deputy Chief Editor of Novaya Gazeta, by the committee members to exchange views on the human rights situation in Russia.

The discussion was organised at this particular moment for two principal reasons. First of all, by bringing up this topic, the MEPs intended to pay tribute to Anna Politkovskaya, the independent Russian journalist who was assassinated in Moscow in October. Politkovskaya was a well-known defender of human rights and a brave commentator on the civil war in Chechnya. Secondly, the conclusions of this debate will be used by the sub-committee in drafting a letter describing the current human rights situation in Russia. The letter will be submitted to the Presidency of the Council and the president of the European Commission in order to influence the EU's stance towards Russia at the forthcoming EU-Russia Summit in Helsinki on 24 November.

By sending the letter, the Parliament intends to further encourage the EU representatives taking part in the summit to speak loudly and openly about violations of human rights in Russia. In a resolution adopted on 24 October, the Parliament has already called upon the European authorities, namely the Commission and the Council, to 'take a principled and consequent stand in the negotiations on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the Russian Federation' and to facilitate that 'human rights and freedom of expression will be placed at the core of any future agreement' (see Europolitics 3178). …

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