The Duma’s chairman Ivan Rybkin, its CIS and Compatriot Affairs committee chairman Konstantin Zatulin, and other senior officials met in Moscow with the Council of Compatriots to discuss its near-term priorities. Rybkin encouraged the Council to promote participation by Russians from the "near abroad" in Russia’s legislative and presidential elections, and to establish "partnership" relations with the interparliamentary bodies of the CIS and of the Council of Europe. The officials also reaffirmed their support for creating a "legal framework" enabling Russia to "react adequately to violations of the rights of compatriots," and endorsed (jointly with Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov) the establishment in Moscow of a public center for the Council to receive complaints from Russians in the "near abroad." (15)
The Council of Compatriots was established recently as a body attached to the Duma, mandated to vet treaties negotiated by Russia with former Soviet countries and Russian legislation which affect the interests of Russians in those countries. An elective body of 35 members, designated by Russian nationalist groups in the former Soviet countries, the Council holds regular monthly sessions in Moscow. The Council is politically close to the Congress of Russian Communities and its ally Zatulin, promoters of Russian reexpansion in the "near abroad" but also keen at election time to tap the votes of Russian citizens living there. The idea of accrediting the Council to CIS and Council of Europe parliamentary bodies is designed to undercut the position of the newly independent countries in those bodies. It would undoubtedly make life difficult for Rybkin’s counterpart Vladimir Shumeiko at the CIS and would fall flat at CE.
Rationale? for Economic Union.