Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Rule of law in Russia

Delivered in Plenary - 15th February 2011

Mr President

Russia is an important partner for the EU on many fronts, but we cannot pretend that Russia is a genuine democracy with a rule of law. Unsolved murders of journalists and human rights defenders to politically-motivated show trials with acquiescent judges say it all in my view. Why, then, is Russia tolerated as a member of the Council of Europe? That is a very good question.

Undoubtedly, the Kremlin treasures this international legitimisation of a government described in the US diplomatic cables recently leaked by WikiLeaks as a virtual Mafia state.

Conversely, the Council of Europe is discredited by its continued acquiescence towards Russia’s authoritarian government. The European Court of Human Rights has a backlog of 27 000 cases from Russia alone, yet a Russian judge on the court is able to order the British Government to give British prisoners the right to vote. This not only exposes the absurdity of Russia’s membership of the Council of Europe, but also encapsulates why the Council of Europe is in my view increasingly ignored internationally. Sadly now, and as a result of this, many Britons, including politicians, think it is time for the UK to review its membership of this organisation and its very intrusive court.