In a new assessment of the direction of EU-Russia political relations, MEPs clarify that parliament differentiates between the Russian people and the regime of President Vladimir Putin. The latter is, he says, “a stagnant authoritarian kleptocracy led by the life of a president surrounded by a circle of oligarchs”.
MEPs, however, insist that Russia can have a democratic future and that the Council should adopt an EU strategy for a future democratic Russia, which includes incentives and conditions to strengthen democratic domestic tendencies.
The text was approved with 56 votes in favour, 5 votes against.
Work with like-minded partners to strengthen democracy
MEPs say the EU should establish alliances with the US and other like-minded partners to balance Russia and China’s efforts to undermine democracy around the world and destabilize the European political system. It should foresee sanctions, policies and support for human rights activists to combat illicit financial flows.
Russia’s ‘support to neighboring countries’
On Russia’s aggression and influence on the EU’s eastern neighbourhood, the EU should continue to support so-called “Eastern Partnership” countries to promote European reforms and fundamental freedoms, MEPs say. These efforts should also serve to encourage Russians to support democracy.
MEPs also suggest using the Conference on the Future of Europe to prepare EU institutions for the renewed momentum in European integration of the EU’s eastern neighbourhood.
Reduce EU energy dependence on Russia, fight “dirty money” at home
The text further states that the EU needs to cut its reliance on Russian gas and oil and other raw materials, at least when President Putin is in power. The European Green Deal and the promotion of new resources will play an important geopolitical role in this regard.
MEPs say the EU should build on its ability to expose and prevent the flow of dirty money from Russia, as well as to expose the resources and financial assets of the autocratic and oligarchic classes of the Russian regime hidden in EU member states should do.
Concerns ahead of 2021 parliamentary elections in Russia
The members concluded by saying that the EU should be prepared to withhold the recognition of the Russian Parliament if the 2021 parliamentary elections are deemed to have been held in violation of democratic principles and international law.
“Russia can be a democracy. The EU has to formulate a comprehensive set of principles, a strategy, which is based on the core values promoted by the EU. Protecting ‘democracy first’ in EU relations with Russia This is our first task. The EU and its institutions must act on the assumption that change is possible in Russia. This is the strategic engagement with the Russian people. It is about ending domestic repression, returning choice to the people and freeing all political prisoners”, said correspondent Andreas Kubilius (EPP, Lithuania) after the vote .
The report will now be presented to the European Parliament as a whole to vote.