On December 8, Lord Frank Judd of the United Kingdom and Rudolf Bindig of Germany arrived in Moscow for a visit which was intended to help prepare a late January meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) which, among other agenda items, is to discuss whether to restore the voting rights of the Russian delegation to that body, revoked earlier this year due to alleged human rights abuses against civilians in Chechnya (Segodnya, December 9).
On December 9, Judd met with the first deputy minister of the MVD, Colonel General Valery Fedorov, who informed him about the present situation in Chechnya. He also met with Justice Minister Yuri Chaika, with whom he discussed the “situation in places of imprisonment” in Chechnya and the problem of creating “a single legal system” in that republic. Chaika invited Judd to come to Chechnya and visit the (now infamous) Chernokozovo detention center (Kommersant daily, December 10).
On December 11, the political committee of PACE held a closed meeting in Riga, Latvia. The participants discussed the reports which would be presented at the PACE assembly in Strasbourg in late January. During the Riga meeting, Lord Judd commented, “There has been progress in Chechnya but not what one would like.” While there have been improvements in the restoration of Chechnya’s legal system, he said, unsanctioned arrests and searches of the populace continue, while the refugee situation remains unsatisfactory (Strana.ru, December 13). Lord Judd plans to pay a visit to Chechnya on 19-20 January in preparation for the Strasbourg meeting.
On December 12, Dmitri Rogozin, head of the Russian delegation to PACE and chairman of the Russian State Duma’s international affairs committee, warned: “Either the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will fully reinstate the powers of the Russian delegation in PACE, or there will be no cooperation [of Russia] with the Council of Europe.” Rogozin noted that in Riga PACE delegates from France had hotly criticized Russia’s actions in Chechnya “in the spirit of the cold war.” “I had to respond no less harshly,” he observed (Strana.ru, December 12).