Dmitry Rogozin Suggests Cutting Russia's Money Contributions to the Council of Europe

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian delegation attending the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, suggested cutting Russia's contribution to the Council of Europe. The idea came as a reaction to the resolution PACE had adopted during the spring session, that which proposed the setting up of an International Tribunal for Chechnya.

"We are one of the Council of Europe's main payers and contribute 25 million dollars annually. We'd better spend this money on the establishment of legal and democratic institutions in the Chechen Republic," he said.

According to his words, the proposal to set up an International Tribunal for Chechnya has "turned into a farce, and we don't want to be part of it." Russia "will not have anyone gambling on the Chechen problem, which is coated with the blood of innocent victims," he said.

Rogozin also stated that the Russian delegation had been offered "to withdraw the proposal to nominate a representative of neutral Switzerland as a speaker in urgent debates on Iraq in exchange for concessions to Chechnya." "We do not trade in principles," he stressed.

"As far as political settlement in Chechnya is concerned, we are not going to consult with PACE any longer," he went on. "After the referendum, we are fully entitled to handle restoration of law, order and democracy in Chechnya by ourselves." He added that Russia would not allow any more inspectors in Chechnya, and promised to raise the question if the PACE inspectors could be recalled.

At the same time, he said, Russia was not going to "slam the door." Instead, it would "use every opportunity and mechanism offered by PACE." Commenting on a European Parliament delegation's upcoming visit to Russia in mid-April, he said: "This organisation is calmer and capable of making serious decisions, including those dealing with finance. We are going to co-operate." On his part, head of the Federation Council's International Committee and PACE vice-speaker Mikhail Margelov said the PACE session left him feeling bad about the "unprofessional character of the documents presented and the non-informative character of the discussion."