27. Sept. 2014


Andreas Gross: The full powers of Russia won’t be restored at the autumn session of the PACE

The member of the Presidential Committee of the PACE and Rapporteur for Russia gave an interview to the Russian service of Voice of America.

Danila Galperovich

On September 29 in Strasbourg begins the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Russian delegation, as member of the PACE, boycotts this session in protest to limiting of the Russian delegation in right to give speeches in a panel session and to be represented on the PACE board because of the annexation of the Crimea at this year April session. -- At the same time Moscow and Strasbourg don’t break the relations completely: one member of the Russian delegation however will speak at presentation of his report, and the Chairman of the State Duma Sergey Naryshkin has gone even to Paris to attend the meeting of the Presidential Committee of the PACE in order to participate in the discussion of the current relations of the Council of Europe and Russia. The member of the Presidential Committee of the PACE and Rapporteur for Russia, the Swiss parliamentarian Andreas Gross speaks in the interview with the Russian service Voice of America about special aspects of the Russian and European dialogue.

Danila Galperovich: It is obvious that Russia takes offence at the PACE but doesn’t break relations completely. Do you expect to find common language with Russia, for example after the meeting with the Chairman of the State Duma?

Andreas Gross: The meeting with Sergey Naryshkin was only the beginning of process of a dialogue, and its continuation will be in November in Moscow. The idea of this process consists in consideration and joint efforts towards finding a majority in the PACE which will return Russia all her rights in the Assembly. -- The wish of the Chairman of the State Duma to continue this dialogue helps a lot on the way to this target. I think the leaders of parliamentary groups in the PACE seek to build this majority. But now, if there is a voting on the point at this autumn session, I think all the rest rights which the Russian delegation has will be refused.

D. G.: Which exactly discussions and joint efforts do you mean?

A. G.: In September meeting of the Presidential Committee of the PACE this year in Paris, where Sergey Naryshkin participated, we decided to make a list of wishes of both sides — the PACE and Russia. For example, I have prepared a couple of propositions for this list. One of them is to make a joint report on the situation with refugees from the zone of conflict in Ukraine. One more proposition is to make a joint report on the humanitarian situation in the Crimea. -- There is also an idea of a report on what happened during the period of August of the last year and April of this year on Maidan in Kyiv, in what way and why the revolution in Ukraine happened, what was the process of transformation of power in this country like. I think a joint work on such reports would demonstrate the wish of the State Duma to joint searching the truth with the Council of Europe, drawing conclusions and developing an understanding of what happened. That will be the reason for building the majority, which I have mentioned before, and returning all the rights to the Russian delegation in January.

D. G.: But you do not expect that these joint reports and discussions would produce an immediate effect?

A. G.: I fully realize that Russia is not going to return the Crimea to Ukraine now, and Russian militaries who are, according to sources of various kinds, on the territory of Ukraine won’t go back across the border immediately. However, I guess we could make a contribution to regulation of this crisis by studying facts and analyzing them together. All that would demonstrate the goodwill of Russian parliamentarians.

D. G.: The current autumn session of the State Duma demonstrates that Russian parliamentarians are not going to demonstrate any goodwill, and vice versa there are declarations in the State Duma on Europe that are harder than half a year ago. Why do you think that these feelings will change?

A. G.: I am sure that the State Duma, so as many Russian citizens, is a victim of a persistent and aggressive propaganda carried on the Russian television. All of them began to believe in their own propaganda. Besides, to my knowledge, the Russian political elite is divided in their attitude to the Counsel of Europe. I know there are people who think that joining the Council of Europe in the 1990s was the sign of weakness and in general terms a mistake of Russia. But I also know people who have a different view. -- They see Russia as part of a European civilization and consider that adhering to the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights is necessary for welfare of her citizens. I have fallen under the impression that Mr. Naryshkin belongs to the people who understand the benefits of being the member of the Council of Europe for Russia. To enter into the sanction list such people as Mr. Naryshkin or, for example, the Deputy Speaker, a communist, Mr. Melnikov is, to my mind, a mistake.

D. G.: So what’s to be done with statements of Sergey Naryshkin and the mentioned Deputy Speaker of the State Duma from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Ivan Melnikov who both said that returning of the Crimea to Ukraine is out of the question, and it would never be done? Ivan Melnikov, affirming about his opposite course to the Kremlin, is in total agreement for that matter with the member of the “United Russia” party Naryshkin?

A. G.: We shouldn’t forget that many members of the State Duma are not free to say what they want. That is the real problem in nowadays Russia – many people are not ready to meet with consequences of the free expression of their opinion because these consequences may be sad. In addition, it takes serious courage to speak out loud something opposite to what propaganda has convinced more than 80 percent of the population. I do not have full confidence in those statements, you are talking about, I’m not sure that what they say is exactly what they think. And relying on such statements and just shutting the door on such people is like to start preparing for the war. And this is just the script that I would like to prevent. And to prevent this catastrophe, you should speak not with those people with whom you do it comfortably, but with those with whom, ultimately, it is necessary to prevent the conflict growth.


Remembering the Real Reason
and Following Cato the Elder

In the interview it is mentioned the strength of the Russian propaganda that affects Russian citizens, including even members of the State Duma. That's right: the level of brainwashing in the Russian Federation is over-the-top. On the one hand, many people really trust everything said on television and therefore they support Putin. There is a different but large number of people who understand that TV lies blatantly, but still these people also support Putin because, having watched the Russian television stuffed with lies, they believe that any media is a propaganda. So, these people think it is better to have their own Russian liar, than to listen to foreign liars from the West. In other words, we are faced to a crisis of mass media confidence in Russia; therefore one of the basis for democracy does not work.

An interesting point: Mr. Gross, denouncing Russian propaganda, saying that many people, even those who hold electoral public office, such as Mr. Naryshkin, is not free to say what they think, never mentioned the reasons for this state of affairs in Russia. Why, I ask, not to call it like it is and not to say who is behind the propaganda, limits to freedom of speech in Russia? It is dangerous to criticize Vladimir Putin in the RF. All right, but the Europeans may say that the current sad state of affairs is caused by painful acts of the President of the Russian Federation.

Another thing worth constantly speaking about is the Crimea. The fact that it was mentioned in the interview is great. But this is not enough. I think we should rephrase the expression the Roman senator Cato the Elder (&lauqo;Carthage must be destroyed») and finish any speech, where Russia is mentioned, with words: «The Crimea must be returned». Because, you know, it seems that the illegal annexation of the peninsula somehow has been forgotten. Is it not the very thing the modern Russia wants?

Anatoliy Khlivnyi

Kontakt mit Andreas Gross

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