Vyacheslav Bakhmin: 'Membership of the Council of Europe is the anchor keeping us in the civilized world'

posted 18 Apr 2016, 09:18 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 25 Apr 2016, 04:55 ]
8 April 2016

Source: HRO.org [extract]
The Soviet dissident and former Russian diplomat of the 90s, Vyacheslav Bakhmin, spoke at the first session of the 'Bogoraz Readings' about Russia’s path to membership in the Council of Europe and the current trends in this respect. In the 1990s, Bakhmin had worked in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, heading the department for international humanitarian and cultural cooperation. His responsibilities included relations with the Council of Europe. 

Vyacheslav Bakhmin: “The driving force behind these changes was a very small group of people who at that time had a real chance to achieve something. Most of the country’s leaders resisted, they didn’t want to go that far or act that radically. But since the trend was toward friendship with the USA and Europe, all of this was declared at the highest level, and they were forced to obey. I saw how this was very strange and confusing for many Foreign Ministry officials. Nevertheless, the signal that we must become a part of Europe had been given, and somehow or another things went in this direction. Much was done to meet the standards of the Council of Europe, at least in some way. 

Nevertheless, there was a great deal that was very far from these standards. But in 1996, Russia was accepted into the Council of Europe. Upon admission, there were a half a dozen issues on which Russia had to take very rapid measures. Russia undertook a commitment to adopt these measures. Much of what happened in the sphere of law in the 1990s, and even in the first half of the 2000s was dictated by our membership in the Council of Europe. That is my firm belief. I think that if we had not been members of the Council, our hands would not have been so tied. The Council of Europe is to this day a very irritating constraint on the Russian authorities. It is the ‘anchor’ keeping us in civilized world.”