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Europe raps Russia's judiciary over lack of independence, political bias

RIA Novosti

17:05 17/02/2011 BRUSSELS, February 17 (RIA Novosti) - The European Parliament has criticized Russia's judiciary over its lack of independence and impartiality, and expressed concern over politically motivated trials.

In a resolution passed on Thursday, the European Parliament cited the "questionable verdict" on the Mikhail Khodorkovsky case and violations of human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly.

"Voicing their concern over reports of politically motivated trials, unfair procedures and failures to investigate serious crimes such as killings and harassment, MEPs urge the Russian authorities to bring perpetrators to justice in an effective, impartial and independent manner," the European Parliament said in a press release.

MEPs called "for an independent judicial review in the appeal proceedings" as well as for "a review of charges and ongoing procedures" against Sakharov Prize winner Oleg Orlov, of the Memorial organization.

They also said "no effective investigations" were carried out into the murders of journalists Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova and Anastasia Baburova and the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

Many human rights violations were linked to the right to peaceful assembly. MEPs deplore the repeated arrests of opposition figures and the breakup of peaceful rallies organized by the Article 31 group.

"Former Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and about 70 other persons were arrested after an opposition demonstration in Moscow on 31 December 2010," the resolution said.

The EU should bring more pressure to bear through the new EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement now being negotiated, which should "play a prominent role in promoting democracy, the rule of law and respect for human and fundamental rights," MEPs said.

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