Nikitin receives moral, procedural support at OSCE

St. Petersburg, July 7 – Aleksandr Nikitin met with the German, Canadian and U.S. parliamentarian delegations to the OSCE during the first two days of the parliamentarian meeting here, and received promises of support.After a meeting with the German delegation to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on July 6, Aleksandr Nikitin met the Canadian delegation early on July 7. He was assured of Canada’s support with respect to a resolution referring directly to Nikitin’s case in today’s debate and tomorrow’s vote.

The resolution, called Supplementary Item on the Development of Rule of Law in the Russian Federation, mentions the Nikitin case and notes violations of "several provisions in the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights." Later the same day, Nikitin received a U.S. delegation of members and staff in his office in central St. Petersburg. Delegates inquired about his case as well as the wider implications of the outcome on the development of the rule of law in Russia.

Russia dislikes resolution
Not unexpectedly, Russia opposes the resolution, which, in addition to discussing the Nikitin case, calls attention to the lack of credible implementation of legal reform. Gennady Seleznev, speaker of the State Duma, lower chamber of the Russian parliament, said, "any discussion of such questions is an interference into the internal court process of Russia." Somewhat less expected, Elena Mizulina, a representative of the reform-minded Yabloko party, spoke in opposition to the resolution, arguing that focusing on individual cases would set back the overall progress of reform. She discussed the issue during the Human Rights session on July 7.

While participants officially speak for themselves and vote individually, common practice has it that country delegations co-ordinate their positions. An official thus expected that Russia would vote against the resolution without defections.

On the other hand, during the Human Rights session, Russia made no concerted effort to follow through on Seleznev’s threat to derail the resolution. One delegate said there was no indication that the Russian delegation was lobbying for a no-vote on the matter.

If these predictions pan out, Russia continues to follow a long-standing practice of dual policies with respect to international bodies. Frequently, Russian public figures take strong positions for domestic consumption while negotiating in good faith behind closed doors at international meetings and organisations.