MPs from Russia and Paraguay discuss ways of countering the novel coronavirus infection and developing digital technology

The Federation Council Cooperation Group met with the Friendship Group of the Chamber of Senators of the Republic of Paraguay.

The Federation Council (FC) hosted via videoconference a joint meeting with the Federation Council Group for Cooperation with Latin American Parliaments and the Parliamentary Group of Paraguay-Russia Friendship of the Chamber of Senators at the National Congress of the Republic of Paraguay.

Head of the FC Cooperation Group and Chair of the FC Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Andrey Klishas and Chair of the Paraguayan Chamber of Senators Committee for the Affairs of Departments, Municipalities and Regions Arnaldo Franco acted as moderators of the event.

The discussion was attended by First Deputy Chair of the FC Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Irina Rukavishnikova, First Deputy Chair of the FC Committee on Federal Structure, Regional Policy, Local Government and Northern Affairs Andrei Shevchenko, member of the FC Committee on Foreign Affairs Alexander Babakov, member of the FC Committee on Science, Education and Culture Olga Khokhlova, member of the FC Committee on Social Policy Andrey Chernyshev. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Paraguay Alexander Pisarev and representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science and Foreign Ministry of Russia and the Embassy of Paraguay.

Andrey Klishas noted the importance of interparliamentary cooperation between the Federation Council and the Chamber of Senators of the Republic of Paraguay, in part, in the Inter-Parliamentary Union. He emphasised the need for cooperation with regional parliamentary structures of Latin America and the Caribbean, where a special role is allotted to the Parliament of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (Parlatino) and MERCOSUR Parliament.

The Senator recalled that Russia and Paraguay are linked by an old-standing friendship.

“In many respects, this is linked with the tangible contribution of the descendants from Russia to the history of Paraguay in the early 20th century. We really do believe that it is very important for our nations to preserve the memory of our common history,” Mr Klishas said.

He emphasised that Russia intends to build relations with Paraguay in the spirit of partnership, in part, by deepening the political dialogue, building up trade and economic cooperation and developing cultural and humanitarian exchanges.

In accordance with the agenda, the participants were requested to discuss ways of countering the spread of the novel coronavirus infection, cooperation in education and ICT development.

Andrey Chernyshev told the Paraguayan MPs about Russia’s experience on adapting its national legislation to the coronavirus realities, the efforts of the executive and legislative government bodies to counter and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus infection, and the practice of vaccinating people on a large scale.

“Over four million people have recovered from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic up to March 15, 2021. Moreover, Russia is the only country to have several vaccines on different platforms. They were developed by scientists of domestic research institutions,” he said.

The Senator recalled that the Russian Sputnik V vaccine was registered in Paraguay thanks to an expedited procedure. The RDIF and the Health Ministry of Paraguay have signed a contract on vaccine supplies.

Members of the Cooperation Group noted that Paraguay is seriously interested in the Russia-developed anti-coronavirus vaccines and an increase in their supply.

In the context of large-scale vaccination in Russia, Mr Klishas drew the attention of his Paraguayan colleagues to the fact that in its government policy Russia gives priority to affordable quality healthcare, preservation and consolidation of public health and the development of a responsible personal attitude to health. Relevant provisions have been sealed in the Constitution of Russia during the Constitutional reform and are mandatory for the federal and regional government bodies.

First Deputy Chair of the FC Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Irina Rukavishnikova spoke about the development of ICT.

The Senator noted that modern technology not only makes information more accessible and reduces distances but also faces tried-and-tested democracy institutions with new challenges.

“The dominance of the largest internet platforms is becoming an international problem. They are restricting free access to information and its dissemination and introducing censorship of the media for political reasons, without any legal grounds and contrary to international law,” she said, adding that “the Federation Council supports the development of unified legal mechanisms for settling such problems at an international level.”

Ms Rukavishnikova drew the attention of her Paraguayan colleagues to the dissemination of traumatising, illegal information that poses a threat to life, health and security. Moreover, at present, experts are paying special attention to the use of personal data and an analysis of a person’s conduct on the internet. She noted that AI helps manipulate users and shape a required perception in their minds, especially as regards children.

The Senator suggested that the Paraguayan colleagues take part in resolving the already mentioned questions at international venues.

At the request of the Paraguayan MPs, the participants discussed cooperation in the field of education, in part, an opportunity to increase the number of scholarships for Paraguayan students in Russian universities.

During the meeting, the participants also reviewed a number of issues concerning bilateral cooperation and spheres of further joint activities.