Konstantin Kosachev discusses the results of the parliamentary investigation on US bio-laboratories in Ukraine

Senators took part in the IPA CIS permanent commissions during the IPA spring session.

During the spring session of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly (IPA CIS), Senators took part in the work of the IPA CIS Permanent Commission on Political Issues and International Cooperation.

Under instructions from Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko, her Deputy Konstantin Kosachev informed his colleagues about the results of the parliamentary commission’s investigation into the circumstances related to the US military-biological activities outside its territory and the creation of US bio-laboratories in Ukraine.

He said the issues of ensuring bio security are becoming particularly urgent in the context of the extremely dangerous and uncontrolled US activities all over the world, including the post-Soviet space. “The Americans are acting in a non-transparent way as regards the countries in which they carry out their projects. In general, these activities are giving rise to serious questions about their compliance with the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC),” Kosachev noted.

Konstantin Kosachev said that facts on the US’s dangerous medico-biological activities were discovered during the special military operation, and that this was the reason for launching (23 March 2022) the parliamentary investigation into the circumstances related to the creation by US specialists of bio-laboratories in Ukraine. “I reported to you in detail on the beginning of this work at the past session of our permanent commission. Russian senators and deputies provided information on the course of this parliamentary investigation in bilateral commissions and friendship groups,” he said.

 The Federation Council Deputy Speaker said the Federation Council has officially completed the investigation and endorsed the final report at its recent session. “It is important to understand that in accordance with Federal Law, the parliamentary investigation did not replace an inquest, a preliminary investigation or legal proceedings. During this investigation we were not supposed to establish the guilt of certain individuals in committing crimes,” he explained.

The Senator noted that the main goal was to generalise scattered information on American bio-laboratories outside the US, inform the Russian public about them and help executive government bodies remove any threat to Russia’s biological security. Eventually, this investigation was aimed at protecting human rights and freedoms, including the right to health and a favourable environment, which are guaranteed by the Russian Constitution. “You will have an opportunity to read the report. It was sent to the President and the Government of the Russian Federation and published on the internet under the established procedure,” he said.

Konstantin Kosachev conveyed the main conclusion of the work by the Russian MPs: the United States is supporting and increasing its ability to develop components of biological weapons and, if need be, use them outside its national territory. “The Americans are violating the provisions of the BWC, and their military-biological programmes on the territory of third countries are posing a direct threat to the security of the Russian Federation and other states,” he said.

The Deputy Speaker emphasised that these circumstances confirm the need for the parliaments of CIS countries to focus on the problems of the BWC and bio security. He expressed hope for the further coordination of efforts with a view to building a common policy on bio security and compliance with the BWC at the national level and the promotion of common positions on relevant multilateral platforms, including at BWC and UN meetings. “That said we believe that to develop cooperation between the CIS countries in the area of biology, we need to take effective measures on limiting the military-biological activities of third countries on our territory. Agreements through bilateral intergovernmental memorandums of understanding on ensuring bio security and establishing bilateral consultative commissions with the signatories of these memorandums will facilitate steady development of this interaction,” the Senator said.

Konstantin Kosachev recalled that the Memorandum with Tajikistan was signed in April 2019, with Turkmenistan in April 2021, with Armenia in May 2021, with Uzbekistan in November 2021, with Kazakhstan in October 2022 and Belarus in January 2023. Talks with Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan are underway. To fulfil the provisions of the memorandum, we suggest that all of its signatories (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) establish bilateral consultative commissions which would include the concerned departments. “This would allow us to regularly compare our positions, receive more information and raise before our partners our own questions on bio security,” the Senator said.

“Russia urges its partners to actively use the potential of representative and legislative bodies in our states for promoting proposals on strengthening the BWC, primarily, by resuming work on the legally binding protocol with an effective verification mechanism. We firmly intend to continue taking consistent steps in the working group on strengthening the BWC, which was established by the Nineth BWC Review Conference in Geneva. We are hoping for vigorous support from the CIS countries,” the Senator said.

Konstantin Kosachev suggested continuing the practice of informing the international community about the CIS’s common approaches and priorities on the issues of bio security at relevant international platforms (primarily in the BWC framework).

 He noted that in line with a joint statement on cooperation in ensuring bio security, which was adopted by the presidents of the CIS countries on October 15, 2021, and the proposals made at the meetings of security council secretaries of the CIS states, the MPs advocate the development of a practical dialogue on CIS security at the expert level with a view to coordinating a common position. They also favour the drafting and implementation of joint documents and initiatives. “We suggest creating a separate CIS format for these purposes,” he said.

Konstantin Kosachev called international bio terrorism yet another potential threat to our states. “IPA CIS is monitoring this issue. It endorsed recommendations on improving the legislation of the CIS states on countering the use of pathogenic bio agents for terrorist purposes. We also consider it necessary to focus the international legal efforts of the CIS countries on launching, as soon as possible, multilateral talks on drafting an international convention on countering acts of chemical and biological terrorism at the Conference on Disarmament,” the Senator said.

The Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Grigory Karasin spoke about the participation of the IPA CIS delegation at the Third Counter-Terrorism Coordination Meeting of Parliamentary Assemblies and cooperation with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism. The event took place in Doha (State of Qatar).

 He said the events were attended by representatives of 14 parliamentary assemblies and interparliamentary organisations, including the Arab Parliament, the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, the African Parliamentary Union, the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the G5 SAHEL Inter-Parliamentary Committee, PARLATINO, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, as well as delegates from the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Shura Council of the State of Qatar, as well as invited experts from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Greece, Interpol, the Dialogue for Development Networks and scholars.

Grigory Karasin, Vladimir Dzhabarov, Taimuraz Mamsurov, Valery Usatyuk and Vladimir Chizhov took part in the events via videoconference. Secretary General and Head of the IPA CIS Council Secretariat Dmitry Kobitsky worked from Doha and held bilateral meetings.

“For two days, we were discussing regional trends, implemented counterterrorism measures, as well as priorities and efforts of the parliamentary assemblies in this area. We also reviewed gender issues in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism. During these discussions, we exchanged views on the strategies of ensuring border security, described our regional practices in this area and reviewed the threats to border security emanating from terrorist organisations and extremist groups as well as legal regulation problems that undermine border security,” said Grigory Karasin.

“Our delegation noted during these discussions that cooperation between national parliaments and interparliamentary organisations is one of the conditions for successful counterterrorism efforts. We urged our colleagues to intensify international cooperation not only between secret services and law-enforcement agencies but also between executive government bodies, parliaments, public organisations and business structures,” Grigory Karasin said. “We noted that despite the current international legal standards, there is a growing need to pool efforts and draft uniform approaches to the assessment of terrorist threats, which would rule out the use of double standards,” he said.

The commission members also listened to the reports on the sessions of international parliamentary organisations (OSCE PA, European Parliament, PACE, IPU and PUIC), and reviewed the commission’s work in 2022.

The meeting of the Joint Commission at the IPA CIS session for the Harmonisation of National Laws Related to Security, Countering Emerging Threats and Challenges took place on the first day of the commission meetings. It was attended by Vyacheslav Timchenko, Taimuraz Mamsurov and Valery Usatyuk.

During the session, experts gave their assessment of the CIS Anti-Terrorism Centre’s draft model Law on Public Security. The participants heard the reports on the draft recommendations for improving the legal regulations on counterterrorism activities by the border agencies of the CIS countries and on curbing illegal actions in their areas. These recommendations were drafted by the experts of the Council of the Border Troops Commanders. The participants also reviewed a report on the draft concept of a new version of the model law On Mobilisation Preparations and Mobilisation.

Meetings of the IPA CIS Permanent Commission on Social Policy and Human Rights and the IPA CIS Permanent Commission on Defence and Security took place on the same day. The former was attended by member of the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy Olga Khokhlova and the latter by members of the Federation Council Committee on Defence and Security Taimuraz Mamsurov and Valery Usatyuk.