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PACE notes improvement in development of democracy in Russia, says Duma MP

Kiev, 27 May: According to preliminary conclusions reached by PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) co-reporters on Russia, there have been changes for the better on a large number of positions, Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma international affairs committee and head of the Russian delegation at the PACE, has said.

"It (report on Russia - Interfax) is being prepared and most likely will be submitted at the PACE January session," Kosachev told Interfax on Tuesday (27 May).

According to him, this year the co-reporters have visited Russia once, at least two more visits are being planned and for the time being they have drawn up the first and "very preliminary press release".

"On a rather large number of positions it (press-release - Interfax) welcomes changes for the better that are taking place in Russia, compared with the period when PACE heard the previous report three years ago. Naturally, some criticism is voiced too - as regards the freedom of the press in Russia and the possibility for small political parties to participate in election campaigns on equal terms, so to speak," Kosachev said.

"We pay heed to this criticism, in some respects one can agree with it, in others one can argue with it, but in any case, in my view, we have a rather constructive, meaningful and good-natured dialogue with the reporters, the monitoring commission and PACE as a whole as regards the development of democracy in the Russian Federation," he said.

Assessing the coming report on Russia, Kosachev told journalists that the Russian side "does not idealize the state of democracy in our country". "Russia is following its own way which meets the interests of the citizens of the Russian Federation to the utmost," he explained.

According to the chairman of the State Duma committee, the results of the last parliamentary and presidential elections, at which the "overwhelming majority of the people of Russia expressed support for the course which Russian has been implementing over the past few years", show that this is the right approach.

At the same time, Kosachev expressed the view that Russia's European partners "should study more carefully the mood and the mentality of Russia".

According to him, at present when for practically 80 per cent of Russia's population life is changing for the better, the rhetoric addressed to Russia "for some unclear to us reasons is getting tougher all the time and, at times, is worse than even during the Cold War period".

"I am inclined to see some political reasons behind it and a certain attempt to exert pressure on Russia through discussions on the state of democracy in Russia in order to push Russia towards some concessions on positions in which our partners in the Council of Europe are really interested," Kosachev said.