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Senior Russian senator lambasts European Court of Human Rights

Moscow, 23 March: Aleksandr Torshin, first deputy speaker of the Federation Council (upper chamber of Russian parliament), has criticized the policy of the European Court of Human Rights towards Russia.

"As a professional lawyer, I have studied the work of the European Court of Human Rights and the decisions which the court has reached on law suits against Russia and which, to put it mildly, have very little in common with jurisprudence," Torshin, who is chairman of the Federation Council commission for analysis of the situation in the North Caucasus and the chamber's deputy speaker, told Interfax on Monday (23 March).

According to him, often decisions taken by this body of European justice towards Russia "are very much reminiscent of a political truncheon".

He said the European court had invented a "new legal theory", according to which the Russian Federation should be prosecuted for all kidnappings and disappearances of civilians or their deaths on the territory of the North Caucasus.

According to Torshin, Russia is prosecuted on the basis of claims alleging that people were kidnapped, went missing or died and claims of possible involvement in these incidents of representatives of Russian state bodies or special services sometimes on the grounds that the kidnappers were wearing a uniform that looked like the uniform of Russian state bodies or special services.

"In these incidents Russia is reproached for the fact that the state has not ensured the effective safety of the region's population; the European court accepts presented facts without bothering to find out the actual circumstances," Torshin said.

At the same time, he said, "the court is well aware of the fact that what is happening in the North Caucasus is often ambiguous; it was often the case that relatives would report a person missing, kidnapped or dead but later it would emerge that the alleged missing, kidnapped or murdered person had acquired new identity papers using a different name and was either living in a different region of Russia or had left the country". (Passage omitted)

Torshin said no-one in Russia contested the responsibility of the state for the safety of its citizens. "But does this mean that the state, having encountered big difficulties in ensuring security in one of its regions, while at the same time taking all necessary measures to tackle the problem, should be held responsible instead of criminals?" Torshin asked.

In this connection he said he did not recall a similar approach on the part of the European court to NATO member countries that, for example, had taken upon themselves responsibility for security in the Balkan region where later thousands of people were killed.

Torshin also disagreed with the view that Russia was the main "supplier" of cases to the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights. "I carefully studied the latest report on court cases last year and can say that, as regards the number of cases being considered, our country is in 22nd place," he stressed.