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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Senator Denies Court Biased Against Russia

APDutch Senator Rene van der Linden
A senior member of the Council of Europe rejected criticism Friday that the European Human Rights Court was biased against Russia, and urged the State Duma to ratify a protocol intended to speed up the court's ability to hear cases.

Russian politicians have bristled in recent months over rulings in the European court that officials here portrayed as politically motivated, including three that have gone against Russia over the treatment of civilians in the Chechen conflict.

"I want to tell you frankly that, if the court ... takes a position that is against the Dutch government, I don't feel it is an attack on my country. I feel it is support for my fellow citizens," Dutch Senator Rene van der Linden, who chairs the council's Parliamentary Assembly, told reporters at the end of his visit to Russia.

The Council of Europe is concerned that Russia's refusal to ratify the so-called Protocol 14 is holding up necessary reforms of the court. The reforms are aimed, in part, at helping the overburdened court speed up the processing of cases. But to come into effect, the reforms must be ratified by all Council of Europe member states. Russia is the only holdout.

On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin singled out a case in which the court ordered Russia to pay compensation to men who allegedly were mistreated while held by authorities in the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdnestr.

Van der Linden did not address Putin's criticism specifically, but said he made an effort during his visit to better explain the court. Of the 300 decisions on Russian cases last year, only about half went against Russia, Van der Linden said. "So you cannot say the court is always dealing in a negative way," he said.

Meanwhile, Van der Winden said he also used his trip to ask about progress on solving the October slaying of investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent Kremlin critic. He met with her former colleagues at Novaya Gazeta, who he said expressed their confidence in the investigation so far.

Van der Winden said he told them that if the investigation faltered, the Council of Europe would use its influence with Russia to try to ensure that the journalist's killers were brought to justice.