Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2011-02-15-Speech-2-102-000"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, despite its excellent constitution, the Russian Federation is still not a state under the rule of law, because there is a huge gap between constitutional law and constitutional reality. The fundamental requirements of a functioning state under the rule of law – an independent judiciary and a free press – are unfortunately lacking. As one sarcastic commentator said: ‘The best Russian court is in Strasbourg’. The fact is that around one third of the cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights come from Russia. Russian citizens do not have any confidence in their own courts, which only rarely dispense justice. This is also clear from the fall in the number of appeals. The country is headed by two lawyers, President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, who have repeatedly expressed their intention of combating legal nihilism. However, their words, which are usually followed by completely contrary actions, have been shown to consist merely of legal cynicism. None of the courts in Russia dare to pass judgment without consulting higher authorities. This system of telephone justice has created judges who are no longer independent and who are more concerned about their own safety and progress than about justice. The Khodorkovsky case clearly demonstrates this. An employee of the justice system has recently said that Judge Danilkin’s judgment was dictated to him from above. The reconviction of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev is a sign that the rule of law in Russia remains in the era of the gulags. As in Soviet times, the judgment was made in advance by the political leadership. Controlled democracy goes hand in hand with controlled justice. Although the Russian justice system is the embodiment of the punitive state, it fails completely when it comes to solving, prosecuting and passing judgment on politically motivated crimes. The attacks and murders of journalists have created a climate of fear and oppression. Conditions in Russian prisons are also appalling. One example of this is the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who uncovered a case of corruption and, as a result, was imprisoned arbitrarily and without charge. He died a horrible death in prison because of a lack of medical treatment. A modernisation agreement between the EU and Russia will only be successful if it is based on a modernisation agreement between the Russian leadership and its own population. This involves ensuring that the rights of the citizens, which are guaranteed under the constitution, are finally respected and fulfilling the obligations which have been entered into with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. Russia needs to make the transition from a controlled democracy to a developing democracy. Essential prerequisites for this include free and just elections to the Duma and the Presidency, an easier process for registering political parties, which meets European standards, and a fair election campaign which gives all the candidates the same opportunities and access to the public media."@en1

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