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Putin power grab: at least 14 journalists murdered, electoral laws changed, human rights trampled: Greens Senator wants Australia to exert pressure

Posted by gmarkets on 28 September, 2007

An appalling pattern was emerging in Russia, said Greens Senator Christine Milne in the Commonwealth Senate on 17 September 2007. Journalists targeted: President Putin had brought in a new crime of extremism, and a number of journalists had been found guilty. At least 14 journalists had been murdered in Russia since Putin came to power and there were suggestions that up to 21 of them had been murdered. Putin had also brought in a law to say that it was legal to kill an enemy of the state outside Russia, which meant the murder of Litvinenko became a state sanctioned act of violence under the Putin regime.

Changed laws: “Only last week I met with Grigory Pasko just before he left to go back to Russia,” Milne said. “He was terrified. He was the journalist who reported the dumping of nuclear waste from Russia into the Pacific. He is now declared an enemy of the state. That is the kind of behaviour that is going on under President Putin. It is extremely sobering to consider what is happening there and then look at the political process where President Putin has moved to remove the democratic election of governors. They are now all appointed by the state. We also have a change to the electoral laws that prevent other political parties being able to contest the elections there because suddenly they do not meet the new requirements.”

Speaking out: Milne said the European Union had expressed its deep concern about: “… the use of force by the Russian authorities against peaceful anti-government demonstrators in Moscow and St Petersburg … And stressed: … that freedom of speech and the right of assembly are fundamental human rights.” Milne said that the British ambassador to Russia had been treated appallingly because he stood up for free speech and human rights when he addressed a conference in Russia. The Australian ambassador had not shown the same level of courage in terms of speaking out on these issues, and Milne urged the government to do so.

Conditional clauses urged: Milne said the Europeans included in their treaties obligations about civil rights and human rights. Don Rothwell from the ANU, in a critique of the government’s proposed arrangements, said that there should be conditionality clauses at the very least — making the treaty conditional upon human rights. Milne urged government Senators to read Rothwell’s advice in relation to negotiating positions for Australia with regard to that Australian-Russian agreement, saying there was obviously room for conditionality, which was not in there.

EU trying to lessen dependence on Russian energy: Milne said: “The European Union went on to express its: ‘… deep concern at the continuing reports from Russian and international human rights organisations about the use of torture and the commission of inhumane and degrading acts in prisons, police stations and secret detention centres in Chechnya …’. So the European Union is very aware of what is going on in Russia. The European Union is also very afraid because when President Putin turned off the gas to Europe he knew very well what he was doing, and it gave all of Europe a sense of the power of Russia as a major energy supplier to Europe, and made the rest of Europe scramble on this issue of energy security, which is why they are going full-on in renewables and trying to develop alternatives so that their dependence on Russia is minimised, given the way things are going.”

Reference: Christine Milne, Senator for Tasmania, Australian Greens, Commonwealth Senate, 17 September 2007 (on Committees: Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee Reference).

Erisk Net, 17/9/2007

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One Response to “Putin power grab: at least 14 journalists murdered, electoral laws changed, human rights trampled: Greens Senator wants Australia to exert pressure”

  1. […] journalist Grigory Pasko when he was in Australia recently, and found what he had to say about growing human rights abuses and the trampling of civil society extremely worrying. The Government and Opposition’s plans to send Australian uranium to a […]

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