MOSCOW - Russian lawmakers yesterday ended years of resistance and ratified an international agreement intended to strengthen and speed up the work of the European Court of Human Rights.
The decision marked a change in the position of the Kremlin-controlled State Duma, which had rejected the document in 2006, fearing it could be used by the West to punish Russia.
The 392-to-56 vote follows President Dmitry Medvedev’s call on Parliament to review the issue and appears to reflect the Kremlin’s desire to improve chilly ties with the Council of Europe, the continent’s top rights body.
The court has struggled to deal with a backlog of cases, and Protocol 14 to the European rights convention was seen as essential for streamlining the court’s proceedings. The document needed the approval of all members of the 47-nation Council of Europe to come into force.
Russia’s reluctance reflected its irritation over court rulings that found the country at fault in scores of cases related to abductions and killings in Chechnya and rights abuses in other Russian regions.