Motion for a resolution - B7-0431/2012Motion for a resolution

    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the political use of justice in Russia

    10.9.2012 - (2012/2789(RSP))

    to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
    pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

    José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, Elmar Brok, Mario Mauro, Cristian Dan Preda, Arnaud Danjean, Michael Gahler, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Jacek Protasiewicz, Vytautas Landsbergis, Elena Băsescu, Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Nadezhda Neynsky, Alojz Peterle, Roberta Angelilli on behalf of the PPE Group

    See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0427/2012

    Procedure : 2012/2789(RSP)
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    European Parliament resolution on the political use of justice in Russia


    The European Parliament,

    –   having regard to its previous reports and resolutions on Russia, in particular its resolutions of 15 March 2012 on the Outcome of the presidential elections in Russia and of 16 February 2012[1] on the upcoming presidential election in Russia,

       having regard to the court decision of 17 August 2012 of Moscow’s Khamovnichesky district court which sentenced members of the female punk band Pussy riot to 2 years of imprisonment for hooliganism,

    –   having regard to the Statement by EU High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission Catherine Ashton on the sentencing of ‘Pussy Riot’ punk band members in Russia from 17 August 2012,

    –   having regard to the Statement of the US State Department on the sentencing of ‘Pussy Riot punk band members from 17 August 2012,

    –   having regard to request of Russian Prosecutor general to vote on early dismissal of Fair Russia Member of the Duma Gennady Gutkov on 12 September 2012,

    –   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

    A. whereas the Russian Federation as a full member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has committed itself to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights; whereas due to several serious violations of the rule of law and the adoption of restrictive laws during the past months there are increasing concerns with regards to Russia’s compliance with international and national obligations;

    B.  whereas the human rights situation in Russia has deteriorated drastically in the last few months and should be addressed in a due course as a priority issue, in particular during EU-Russia bilateral meetings and negotiations;

    C. whereas the Russian authorities have recently adopted a series of laws which contains ambiguous provisions and could be used to further restrict opposition and civil society actors and hinder freedom of expression and assembly;

    D. whereas Moscow Khamovnichesky district court sentenced three activists of the female punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison on 17 August 2012 after having found them guilty of hooliganism motivated allegedly by religious hatred in February 2012 at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral;

    E.  whereas the Duma is scheduled to vote on 12 September 2012 to lift the immunity of and to dismiss from the Duma Gennady Gudkov for business activities during his mandate which contradict Article 289 of the Russian Criminal Code; whereas for the sake of the rule of law anti-corruption rules should apply equally and impartially to all members of the Duma;

    F.  whereas the case of Sergei Magnitsky is only one of several cases of abuse of power by the Russian law enforcement authorities, strongly violating the rule of law and leaving those guilty in his death still unpunished; whereas there are a multitude of other judicial cases where politically constructed reasons are being used to eliminate political competition and to threaten civil society;

    G. whereas the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former chief executive of the Yukos oil company, who remains in prison having been convicted in two separate trials on charges widely held to be politically motivated; whereas Mr Khodorkovsky’s second trial was described by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute as unfair; whereas, Mr Khodorkovsky has been declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International;

    1.  Takes the view that Russia as a member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe should meet the obligations it has signed up to; outlines that recent developments have moved in the opposite direction to the reforms necessary to improve the democratic standards and the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Russia;

    2.  Recalls that former President Medvedev established a working group looking at reform of the electoral system, improvement of the rule of law and respect of fundamental rights in Russia; recalls that the European Parliament has urged the Russian authorities to pursue these reforms and has offered EU support including through the framework provided by the Partnership for Modernisation;

    3.  Expresses however its concern about the deteriorating climate for the development of civil society in Russia in particular with regard to the recent adoption of a series of laws governing demonstrations, NGOs, defamation and the internet that contain ambiguous provisions and could lead to arbitrary enforcement; remind Russian authorities that a modern and prosperous society needs to recognise and protect the individual and collective rights of all its citizens;

    4.  Expresses also concern about the law on extremism with view to the wide discretion in the interpretation of its basic notions on ‘extremist actions’ and ‘extremist organisations’ which according to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe could lead to arbitrariness and restriction of freedom of association and expression; calls on the Russian authorities to address these concerns by amending the law;

    5.  Is deeply disappointed with the verdict of the Khamovnichesky District Court in Russia in the case of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samutsevich, members of the punk band ‘Pussy Riot’ on 17 August 2012 for ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’; considers the sentence to be shaky in motivation, disproportionate with view to the fact that it was a non violent protest and condemns reports of mistreatment of band members during their pre-trial detention and reported irregularities of the trial; expects that this sentence will be reviewed and reversed in line with Russia’s international commitments;

    6.  Condemns the arrest of demonstrators in the framework of the ‘Pussy Riot’ trial including leading members of the opposition and journalists; urges Russian authorities to respect freedom of assembly and expression;

    7.  Welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court on 25 July 2012 to review both, the Khoderkovsky and Lebedev cases in line with the recommendation of the Presidential Commission on Human rights from December 2011; takes note of the shortening of Lebedev’s sentence by three years; calls for continuation of a comprehensive review of these cases based on Russian international commitments to fair and transparent trials and to respect fully and implement the findings and recommendations of the Presidential Human Rights Commission with regard to the case of Mr Khodorkovsky;

    8.  Takes note of the Prosecutor General’s request to vote on early termination of powers of Duma member Gennady Gudkov for business activity during to his parliamentary mandate in contradiction of Article 289 of the Russian Criminal Code; calls on Russia to refrain from using laws arbitrarily for the purpose of clamping down on Members of the opposition;

    9.  Is troubled by the sentence of ‘Other Russia’ activist Taisiya Osipova to eight years in prison on drug charged despite former President Medvedev criticising the first verdict of 2010 to ten years as being too harsh, the prosecutor demanding only four years and several witnesses questioning the trustworthiness of the charges against her; points out that several other cases against opposition activists raise strong concern including the prosecution of opposition activist Alexei Navalny who faces up to ten years imprisonment if convicted for the involvement in the alleged theft of timber worth 16 million roubles;

    10. Outlines that these cases add to the upsurge in politically motivated intimidation and prosecution of opposition activists in Russia; calls for a coherent and proactive approach to the serious human rights violations in Russia and, on a case-by-case basis, an evaluation of the Council of the necessity of restrictive measures against offenders as a last resort measure provided that there is a clear evidence of an offence or a crime committed;

    11. Urges Russian authorities to put an end to omnipresent impunity and pervasive corruption in the country, to conduct a credible and independent investigation of Magnistky and other cases alike, and to bring all those responsible to justice;

    12. Calls on Russia to redirect its current course, to re-focus on its international obligations and to engage in serious commitments to improve the independence of its judiciary and the rule of law;

    13. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.