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    COUNCIL OF EUROPE'S REPORT POINTS OUT TO SOME REFORMS UNACCOMPLISHED IN RUSSIA

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    MOSCOW, May 23 (RIA Novosti, Kristina Rodriguez) - A report by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe states that Russia has "undergone drastic changes" in recent 15 years, however "some reforms have not been completed."

    Alvaro Gil-Robles is coming to Russia on May 25 to present his report on the human rights situation in Russia to the country's leadership.

    In his report Gil-Robles refers to death penalty as a serious deficiency in Russian legislation, although moratorium has been imposed on the measure.

    The ombudsman stresses the necessity to "pursue the judicial reform, enhance the independence of the judicial system and judges, improve custodial conditions, and modernize medical service in pre-trial detention centers and prisons."

    The official also emphasized the importance of combating violence and abusive treatment by the police, "fighting corruption, which reigns in a number of state management sectors."

    The commissioner calls for "guaranteeing the freedom of the press, opinion and expression and keeping the law on mass media of 1991 unchanged." "Combat against terrorism must not restrict the freedom of mass media," Gil-Robles underlined.

    The report ends with recommendations to "adopt a framework law, which would provide a more detailed definition of the powers of regional human rights commissioners and continue developing a dialogue and cooperation with the civil society".

    The official admitted that the state of affairs in Chechnya would be on the agenda of the upcoming talks in Moscow.

    On April 20 Gil-Robles delivered his report on Russia at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. This body is to make a decision on the document's future, and it may be placed on the agenda of a regular session of the Parliamentary Assembly.

    The document Gil-Robles is going to present in Russia contains 140 pages. It was composed to reflect the results of the commissioner's two visits to Russia, in July and September of 2004.

    During his visits the commissioner met with representatives of federal and regional authorities, judicial bodies, law enforcement officials and representatives of more than a hundred non-governmental organizations. He inspected hospitals, schools, orphan asylums, nursing homes, military units, courts, interior departments and penal institutions.

    The report Gil-Robles prepared focuses on such issues as the work of judicial and law enforcement bodies, observance of human rights in the armed forces, the freedom of the press, observance of the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, combat against racism and xenophobia, the activity of non-governmental organizations, the status of women, children, the elderly and disabled.

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