Russian MPs protest against European parliament's resolution on human rights violation in Russia's constituent republic

Russia's State Duma, the lower house of parliament, has expressed a protest against the resolution on human rights violations adopted by the European Parliament in respect with the Republic of Mari-El, on the Volga River.

The resolution was adopted on Estonian and Finnish members' initiative.

The State Duma issued a statement on the matter, saying the European Parliament had cited "unnamed Russian-based international non-government organizations." The European parliamentarians gave what the State Duma said was an unsubstantiated negative assessment to the December 2004 presidential elections in the republic. Europeans also pointed to restrictions on freedom of speech and opportunities for ethnic Maris to get education in their native language.

The Europarliament called on the Russian authorities to ensure equal rights and freedoms for ethnic minorities living in the republic.

The State Duma insists that Europarliament's arguments were ungrounded. Russian MPs said all ethnic minorities in the republic were not barred from receiving education in their native language and taking part in all kinds of local activities and events.

Ethnic Maris now account for 32% of senior republican and municipal government officials.

The State Duma accused European MPs of applying double standards in monitoring human rights in Russia and Europe, of "an attempt to shift the blame for grave, massive human rights abuses from Europe on to Russia, divert the global community's attention from problems facing ethnic minorities in the Baltic countries."

The State Duma invited the Europarliament to abandon the "domesticity" principle in monitoring the observance of human rights and stop dividing European countries into "us" and "them," and be guided by the spirit of true partnership and cooperation in its dialogue with Russia.

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