Barring opposition candidates from standing in Russia's 4 March presidential elections once again undermines political competition and pluralism, says the European Parliament in a resolution passed on Thursday. It calls for urgent reforms to Russia's electoral law.
Parliament urges the Russian authorities to reform the electoral laws, in line with Council of Europe and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) standards, to ensure that the March presidential elections are free and offer equal opportunities to all candidates. It also regrets the decision to deny liberal candidate Grigory Yavlisnski the right to stand in them.
Parliament calls on the Russian authorities to prevent the kind of interference with and hindrance of international election observers that was reported in the December 2011 Duma elections and notes a lack of transparency and effectiveness in handling complaints. It notes that almost 3,000 challenges alleging electoral malpractice in those elections have been rejected by the relevant courts.
Some 600 international observers are expected to monitor the presidential elections, including, for example, observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
Russia has to take responsibility on solving Syrian crisis
The resolution strongly urges Russia to join the international consensus so as to allow the UN Security Council to act to resolve the Syrian crisis.
Parliament stresses that as a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia needs to take its responsibility for international peace and security seriously. It also calls on Russia immediately to halt all arms and military equipment sales to the Syrian government.
At the start of February, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad to step down.
Procedure: non-legislative resolution