RIA Novosti Council of Europe sets priority issues for Russian presidency
27/03/2006 16:34 MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Council of Europe's president Monday outlined the issues that Russia will highlight when it holds the rotating presidency of the organization.
Russia intends to use its first-ever presidency of the 46-nation Council of Europe to consider issues including alleged secret CIA jails in Europe, the post-election situation in Belarus and Ukraine, and Chechnya, Rene van der Linden told a news conference in Moscow.
He said the secret prisons allegedly being run by the CIA across Europe would be in focus at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) session in June.
Van der Linden also said that post-election Belarus and Ukraine, as well as the troubled North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, were sensitive issues for both the Council of Europe and Russia, which will hold the presidency of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers from May to October.
Russia should ratify the protocol banning the death penalty in short order, van der Linden said, adding that Russia was the only country in the Council of Europe not to have ratified the document.
Russia introduced a moratorium on capital punishment in 1996 when it joined the Council of Europe.
But van der Linden said he understood Russia's problems, particularly after the bloody hostage-taking crisis at Beslan in the North Caucasus in 2004.
He said most Council member states had encountered serious difficulties when ratifying the document, but added that it was a key political aspect for the organization seeking to promote human rights.
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