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Council Of Europe: PACE Condemns Communist Crimes

(epa) The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe PACE at its session in Strasbourg yesterday condemned widespread human rights violations committed by totalitarian communist regimes. The group, however, failed to pass a draft recommendation calling on European governments to adopt an official declaration on communism and carry out legal investigations of individuals suspected of carrying out communist-era crimes.

MOSCOW, 26 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The resolution condemning abuses committed by communist regimes sparked heated debate at the assembly.

But PACE -- a leading political human rights watchdog that brings together parliamentarians from 46 countries across the continent -- finally adopted it by a simple majority.

Among the crimes, the resolution cites "individual and collective assassinations, death in concentration camps, starvation, deportation, torture, slave labor and other forms of mass physical terror."

The document calls for such acts to be condemned like the crimes of the Nazis in World War II. It added that totalitarian communist regimes still exist in some countries.

Call For Sympathy

Goran Lindblad, the Swedish PACE member who authored the resolution, told the assembly yesterday that sympathy should be extended to victims.

"It should be clear to all and everyone that these crimes that are committed in the name of communism are condemned with no exception," Lindblad said. "And secondly, as long as there are victims of communist regimes alive -- or maybe their relatives still alive -- there is a chance to give them moral restitution."

But a tougher recommendation urging governments to officially condemn communist crimes failed to garner the needed two-thirds majority. The recommendation also called for investigations into such crimes.
The resolution cites "individual and collective assassinations, death in concentration camps, starvation, deportation, torture, slave labor and other forms of mass physical terror."

The proposal met was strongly rebuked by the Russian delegation at PACE, but also by communists and socialists from many European countries.

Russia's Communist leader, Gennady Zyuganov, branded it an attempt by right-wing parties to divide Europe. Another Communist member of the Russian delegation, Ivan Melnikov, accused Lindblad of double standards and threatened to slash Russian funds to the Council of Europe.

Some 200 communist sympathizers from Russia and a dozen European states also gathered yesterday outside the council building in Strasbourg to protest the resolution.

Tough Enough?

Not all Russians, however, share this view.

Some, on the contrary, blame PACE for taking too mild a stance against communist crimes.

Viktor Kremenyuk, the deputy head of the USA-Canada Institute in Moscow, is one of them.

"Western Europe, which united into NATO, condemned communism and called it its enemy. I was surprised when I heard about this [failure of the PACE recommendation], and I thought: 'What kind of NATO members are you, why are you keeping silent?' Kremenyuk said. "This is all senseless and incompetent. It turned out to be a half-baked attempt, not
An estimated 100 million people were slain under communist regimes during the 20th century.

thought through properly."

Estimates of the number of victims who fell under communist regimes during the 20th century vary, but a rough estimate places them at around 100 million.

China accounts for about 65 million victims, while some 20 million people are thought to have been killed in the Soviet Union. North Korea, followed by Cambodia, Africa, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, account for another 10 million victims.

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