Rantisi's death does not change Hamas' character, Kosachev says

The assassination of Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the newly appointed leader of Hamas, will not change its terrorist character, said Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the State Duma (lower house of Russian parliament) International Affairs Committee.

"The physical destruction of the leaders of terrorist organisations has never changed their nature," Mr. Kosachev said.

"There is no negating Israel's right to defend itself from the threat of terrorism, but protection cannot be attained by such actions," he said.

Extrajudicial punishment creates an extremely dangerous use of force precedent in the territory of a national state and may have utterly unpredictable consequences, he said.

"There is also a consolidated position of the international community condemning whatever extrajudicial violence on people who obviously are involved with terrorism. Here, the position of Russia is the same," he stressed.

Mr. Kosachev also said that at its plenary session on Tuesday, April 20, the State Duma would ratify the Common Economic Space Agreement between Russia and Ukraine.

He said that the lower chamber of Russian parliament would ratify the Russian-Ukrainian agreements on the state border and joint use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch strait.

For the first time in the history of the Russian and Ukrainian parliaments, these documents will be ratified at the same time, April 20, Mr. Kosachev said.

He recalled that the Common Economic Space Agreement is a four party agreement and that Belarus and Russia also have an agreement that was simultaneously ratified. Such a possibility is also being discussed with Kazakhstan's parliament.

Despite his confidence that the State Duma will ratify all three documents, Mr. Kosachev said: "Deputies have questions for the Ukrainian side, specifically regarding the recent events related to the Ukrainian parliament's ratification of a memorandum with NATO."

Russian members of parliament are also concerned about the Ukrainian National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council's decision to limit the use of Russian in radio and television broadcasting, Mr. Kosachev said.

"We hope that this technical decision will not be supported at the political level," he said.

Commenting on the Russian-Ukrainian agreements on the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait, he said that their conclusion has become "an obvious victory for Russian and Ukrainian diplomacy".

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