The winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) began working in Strasburg. European deputies will do what they like doing most – criticize Russia for all of its recent steps in home and foreign politics. At any rate, one shall expect anti-Russian remarks during the discussion of such issues as South Ossetia, Ukraine and the Baltic states. The agenda will also include the consequences of the financial crisis, the war in Gaza and other problems.
Russia will not be the only antihero at the session. Armenia (an Asian republic of the former USSR) also gained some attention of the PACE deputies. They claim that Armenia did not fulfill the resolution of 2008, did not release political prisoners and did not conduct the unbiased investigation of the events which took place in the country on March 1-2, when an opposition meeting ended with riots in which ten people were killed.
As for the fuel issue, the Europeans will try to build the Nabucco pipeline as soon as possible to transport the Caspian crude to Europe bypassing Russia. Armenia, Russia’s ally, seems to be a weak link at this point. Therefore, Europe will have to put some pressure on the Armenian administration to make it run pro-Western foreign policy.
PACE rapporteurs believe that Russia has not met several requirements of last year’s resolution on South Ossetia. “The Assembly is sorry that Russia has not met most of the requirements of the Assembly, including numerous requirements that are not related to the issue of the status of two regions (South Ossetia and Abkhazia),” the draft document runs. The document does not specify any of those requirements, though.
Nevertheless, the head of the Russian delegation in Strasburg, Konstantin Kosachev, is optimistic about the session. He said that the PACE could mitigate the final version of the prepared resolution. “It is not ruled out that Russia will support the resolution once it is constructive,” Kosachev said.
Another issue on the agenda also catches attention: “The investigation of the crimes committed by top officials during Leonid Kuchma’s rule in Ukraine.” On the one hand, it looks like an awkward attempt to whitewash Viktor Yushchenko, whose image in Europe was blackened during the recent gas crisis. Specialists say that Yushchenko’s rule will look somewhat better against the background of the crimes committed during Kuchma’s rule. However, Yushchenko is not bad at all for the deputies from Poland and the Baltic states just because of the fact that all his actions are aimed against Russia.
Eyewitnesses said that explosions could be heard in the centre of Kyiv. Smoke was seen rising above Zhuliany Airport (Kyiv International Airport)