Council of Europe (CoE)
Interview of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe Ivan Soltanovsky to the Russia Today TV channel, Strasbourg, August 30, 2017
Question: In July and August the Russian Federation has joined two conventions of the Council of Europe. One is on countering terrorism financing and another one is on security at sports events. Russia has also signed the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism. Could you, please, say some words on Russian priorities in these two areas?
How important is it for the Russian Federation to join the convention on countering terrorist financing?
Ivan Soltanovsky: In the early 2000s the World faced the unprecedented surge in the international terrorism. Terrorist organisations gained considerable capacities and support. One of the major causes was their ability to gather large resources through both criminal and legal activities and donations of various NGOs. It is evident that the efforts of single states were insufficient to cope with this challenge. At this time the Council of Europe developed the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism. Russia has ratified this convention in August this year. This convention establishes the mechanism which can prevent terrorist attacks by cutting terrorist financing. Russia gets an additional capability to disrupt the financing of foreign terrorist fighters in its territory.
Question: The Council of Europe does not limit itself to fighting terrorism financing. What can you say about the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism?
Ivan Soltanovsky: Indeed, we develop different mechanisms to combat terrorism in the Council of Europe. Unfortunately, terrorism continues to evolve, it takes new forms and adopts new methods. The Syrian crisis has given rise to so-called “jihad-tourism”. The states encounter the problem to prosecute their citizens for terrorist activities which have been committed in another country. It is also critical to stop foreign terrorist fighters in its own territory. The Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism which was signed by the Russian Federation on July 27 is a response to these challenges. This document criminalizes trips to other countries to participate in terrorist organisations as well as the organization and financing of such trips even if such activity is not aimed at committing terrorist attacks per se.
I would like to say some words about the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism of 2005. Our country initiated its development and was one of the first signatories. One of its most important features is that it enshrines the principle “extradite or prosecute” as well as criminalizes public incitement to commit terrorist offences, recruitment for terrorism and training for terrorism. “Extradite or prosecute” principle means that a Party to this convention is obliged to initiate a prosecution against a suspected terrorist whom it denies to extradite to another Party of the convention. The terrorists should be unable to find a safe haven anywhere.
Question: Could you, please, say some words about the activities of the Committee of Experts on Terrorism which is the main specialized body of the Council of Europe on counterterrorism?
Ivan Soltanovsky: Unfortunately, the Russian Federation has gained a great experience in combatting terrorism in recent years. And this experience unequivocally demonstrates that antiterrorism is much more efficient if it is implemented in cooperation, if competent authorities exchange information on a regular basis and share the best practices. This is the reason why the Russian Federation is active in the Committee of Experts on Terrorism or CODEXTER. This Committee coordinates antiterrorism in the Council of Europe, analyses international counterterrorism norms, standards and practices and overcomes their shortcomings. CODEXTER also cooperates closely with other international institutions and organisations such as the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union and the Global Counterterrorism Forum. Thus the CODEXTER promotes trust-based relations between competent authorities of different countries. This simplifies international counterterrorist cooperation, accelerates the resolution of many issues and it will be no exaggeration to say that human lives often depend on this.
Question: In 2015 the Council of Europe adopted Action Plan “The fight against violent extremism and radicalization leading to terrorism”. What can you say about it?
Ivan Soltanovsky: We welcome integrated and systemic approach of the Council of Europe to counterterrorism. We consider the action plan which stipulates the priorities of antiterrorist activities of the Council of Europe for 2015 - 2017 against this background.
We are positive about the fact that this document focuses on terrorism prevention. We consider preventive work against radicalization in prisons to be very important. As both Russian and international experience demonstrates many terrorists become radicalized in prisons. Thus relevant developments of the Council of Europe which are based on the best international practices are highly topical.
Recent events show that the terrorists acting alone pose all the greater threat. The plan envisages that the Council of Europe elaborates a recommendation on terrorists acting alone given the experience which was obtained by a number of countries. No doubts that such a document will be very useful for the Russian Federation.
Question: What could you say as a conclusion before we proceed to another topic of our conversation? How would you evaluate current results of antiterrorism in the Council of Europe?
Ivan Soltanovsky: Counterterrorism has become one of the main activities of the Council of Europe. It has found its own niche in global fight against terrorism. The main efforts of the Council of Europe are focused on counterterrorism through legal, social and cultural means.
I think that the multilateralism is a distinctive feature of counterterrorism in the Council of Europe. We obtain a capability to thwart international terrorism, to cut its foreign financing, prosecute for the crimes committed abroad, request terrorists’ extradition from other countries. So the Council of Europe contributes to a common European legal framework of law and order area and facilitates European democratic stability. We are satisfied that the Council of Europe has managed to retain a depoliticized and result-oriented cooperation in this area in current difficult political climate.
We have always supported stronger antiterrorist cooperation. Unfortunately, practically all the Member-States have encountered the problem of terrorism. In this context our country advocates stronger human and financial potential for the Council of Europe in this area. We are sure that this will increase antiterrorist capabilities of the Council of Europe.
Question: Thank you. Let us proceed to another topic of today’s interview which is also on the radar of the Council of Europe. It is European legal regulation in the sport. What could you say about the activities of the Council of Europe in this sphere?
Ivan Soltanovsky: Sport issues gain an ever growing importance in the dimension of humanitarian cooperation in the Council of Europe. One of the reasons for this is that the organisation seeks to become a major developer of international sports standards. I believe that the Council of Europe has all the necessary potential to succeed here if it keeps current balanced and depoliticized approach. I am convinced that the Council of Europe can play a role of utmost importance in protecting sportsmen from discrimination in different international sports organisations. The European Court of Human Rights could deal with these issues. The reasons are obvious. The breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights are more often than not evident.
Question: In August this year Russia has ratified the Council of Europe Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events. What are the priorities of the Russian Federation in this area in the Council of Europe?
Ivan Soltanovsky: I am sure that the ratification of the Convention will help Russia to prepare even better for the upcoming Football World Cup. Hooliganism at sports events has a trans-border effect. The convention will aid in establishing a new system of ensuring the safety of such events. This step demonstrates Russia’s serious attitude towards both implementation and the development of new sports standards in this area.
This is completely true for fighting doping. A bilateral anti-doping action plan was signed by Russia and the Council of Europe in May 2016. It is aimed to overcome a doping scandal with our country. As a co-author of this plan the World Anti-Doping Agency also approved it. Its systematic and successful implementation has borne fruits. WADA has recently allowed the Russian Anti-Doping Agency to take tests (although under control of the colleagues form the UK) and published a favourable report on the status of the Russian anti-doping system. This plan is unique because it provides for establishing the highest anti-doping standards. After it has been implemented, Russia will become the most advanced country in this sphere and set the bar for other countries.