Kox: 'Russia must carry out substantial and sustainable reforms’

21 January 2012

Kox: 'Russia must carry out substantial and sustainable reforms’

SP Senator Tiny Kox has been happy to note that in Moscow, from every side of the political spectrum, the need for political change is recognised. Kox warned the Russian authorities that changes must be ‘substantial and sustainable’ and not a mere ‘survival strategy’.

Tiny Kox

Tiny Kox is in Russia as head of the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Having visited the country during the recent elections, he has returned in order to assess the state of play in their aftermath.

The six-strong delegation has established that whatever their political preferences an increasing number of Russians are expressing a desire for fair elections. Kox has appealed to Russia to meet this wish. “The recent mass demonstrations have shaken Russia out of its sleep,” he says.

Kox recognises that the organisation of elections in such an enormous country presents stiff challenges, but in his view Russia is perfectly capable of meeting these. What is more important is the need for “an independent referee who can supervise voting. Public confidence in the electoral system requires a large-scale adjustment of the way in which elections are organised and controlled.”

The delegation is satisfied that there are greater possibilities for a better dialogue between the authorities and civil society organisations, while it has become far more common to see a start being made on the forging of political alliances. Both of these developments point to progress in Russian political culture. Kox challenged Russian political forces to ‘get their gloves off and serve their country by getting down to full-blown political debate and laying open their political differences within the democratic system.”

According to Kox United Russia’s political office-holders have stated that they are looking to address at least a few of the shortcomings of the recent elections to the Duma, the national parliament. International observers established during these elections that there was insufficient distinction between the state and the party in power, that political competition was limited and that the elections had not been fair. In the SP Senator’s view, the delegation expects the Russian authorities to turn their fine words into deeds.

The delegation has held talks with numerous political parties and with the head of the Election Commission, as well as with Ombudsman Lukin, who is responsible for human rights.

The delegation’s visit is in preparation for the next meeting of the Council of Europe, where the Russian elections will be discussed. A request has also been lodged to reflect on the topic 'between two elections in Russia’, but whether this debate will take place remains to be decided.

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