Home » Press » Publications and Reports » Article by Konstantin Kosachev: “Inter-Parliamentary Union and Russia: History Through the Ages”

Article by Konstantin Kosachev: “Inter-Parliamentary Union and Russia: History Through the Ages”

October 14, 2017 in St. Petersburg, the 137th Assembly of the oldest political international organization of the world – the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU, Union) will solemnly open. Let me remind you that the previous 136th Assembly of the Ministry of Railways in Dhaka (Bangladesh), which was prepared in detail in the pages of International Life, 1 was truly historic for the Russian delegation. For the first time in 20 years, Russia initiated a draft resolution in the IPU, and on a very important and acute topic – “The role of parliament in respecting the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states”, achieved its consideration and, having received the support of the overwhelming majority of national delegations at the assembly, ensured the adoption of the document by consensus .

Of course, the resolution is significant not only by the fact of its adoption. Its central thesis was a statement of inadmissibility under the pretexts of the so-called “humanitarian intervention” of the violent replacement of the legitimate governments of states. That is, the whole world witnessed in Iran, Afghanistan, Libya and other parts of the world at different times. It would seem that the very thesis, stemming from the basic principles of international law, does not need additional arguments and lawyers. However, during the discussion of the final text and the work on the amendments (143 in all), it became obvious that there was an open confrontation on the part of “our Western partners”. As they say, “the thief’s hat burns”: the very fact of the tough resistance of quite specific countries only vividly proved the extreme urgency of the resolution. Moreover, as is often the case in such cases, it was not at all the difference in the approaches to the interpretation of certain provisions of our resolution (which is clearly possible and even correct), but about the simple denial of the very fact of necessity to speak out against external interference in the internal affairs of states .

In Dhaka, an important step was taken on the Syrian track. The main governing body of the IPU-Executive Committee managed to implement our initiative to establish a Working Group on the promotion of a political settlement in this long-suffering country. We invited the European, Asian, Latin American and African parliamentarians to personally visit Syria as part of the mission of the IPU to assess the situation on their own and to form their own and, importantly, uninterested opinion on future steps for a Syrian settlement. We plan to carry out such a visit before the session of the Ministry of Railways in St. Petersburg.


Despite the fact that our country once hosted parliamentarians from all over the world in Moscow at the 100th IPU conference in 1998, little is known about this organization in Russia. I would say, undeservedly a little. Even less is known about the rich history of Russian participation in this world parliamentarians’ meeting. And the story is extremely interesting and rich in symbolic facts and acts.

To begin with, Russia played a certain role in the activities of the Union even before becoming a member of it. Thus, at the seventh inter-parliamentary conference in Budapest (1896), at the initiative of the Hungarian delegation, it was decided to invite members of “any representative bodies of states that do not have genuinely parliamentary institutions” to participate in IPU conferences. In furtherance of this decision, the conference changed the Charter of the IPU, adding a new paragraph to Article 6, which stated that “meetings are also allowed after statements made by the respective governments, members of the senates and facultatively convened councils or similar institutions of countries that do not have a Constitution” . According to contemporaries, this proposal was primarily aimed at Russia, whose cooperation was very valuable for the international organization created in 1889, which set itself the task of preserving and protecting the world.

Since the founding of the State Duma of the Russian Empire, whose first meeting was held on May 10 (April 27), 1906 in the Tauride Palace of St. Petersburg, the IPU has made repeated attempts to establish stable contacts with Russia through the mediation of British and French parliamentarians. Already on June 3 (May 21), 1906, a handwritten message in Russian (!) Was sent to the Chairman of the State Duma S.Muromtsev in the Russian language (!) By the Honorary Secretary of the British Interparliamentary Group, the co-founder of the Ministry of Railways U. Kremer and the Chairman of the British Group, Lord Verdale “on the Congress of the Union, which takes place in July with the sympathy and support of His Majesty’s Government. ” In the letter, the authors also drew attention to the role played by Russia in holding the First Hague Conference in 1899, noting that: “Therefore, we would welcome with special cordiality the representatives of the created State Duma and the great people of the Russian” 3. Almost simultaneously with this, a letter of the chairman of the French interparliamentary group Senator d’Estournel de Constant arrives in the State Duma on June 10 (May 28) with the proposal to form a Russian parliamentary group in the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The reaction of the Duma was immediate: on June 6, the Statement of the Commission of 19 concerning the reports of the president of the British group and the president of the French group of the Interparliamentary Union of the International Arbitration Court (as it was in the original) was transmitted to her conclusion. The statement, in particular, noted that “at the present moment, when Russian freedom is born, Russia is more than ever animate with a fiery desire to molest the successes of culture and civilization in the international arena, through peaceful competition and under the banner of universal ideals.” At the 36th meeting of the State Duma on June 30, 1906, both messages were presented to the deputies, who greeted them with applause. In the verbatim record of this meeting, there are the words of Deputy IV Zhilkin (Saratov Gubernia): “I believe that now the State Duma is discussing a phenomenon of extreme importance, a phenomenon that, as well as our young parliament, leads us to the European road, new light “5.

At the same meeting, the first delegation of the State Duma was elected to the IPU conference in London. The unpleasant news about the dispersal of the Duma came just on the opening day of the conference (July 10), and the mission of the delegation of the Russian parliamentary group ended without beginning.

The Russian group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union – the main institutional link necessary for working in the Ministry of Railways – was established already in the Third State Duma on May 3, 1909, and by 1910 had 115 members of the Duma and 16 members of the State Council. The annual membership fee was seven rubles. The chairman of the group was elected deputy I.Efremov, whose biography and activities in the Ministry of Railways deserve special mention *. (* Ivan Nikolayevich Efremov was born in Kharkov on January 6, 1866. He belonged to an ancient Cossack noble family, the son of a nobleman in the Don Military Region, from 1885 to 1811. He studied at the Physics and Mathematics Department of Moscow University in 1906. In 1906 he was elected member of the First State Duma, member of the Democratic Reforms faction, elected chairman of the Russian group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union During the February Revolution of 1917 he was a member of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma, in July 1917 he became Minister of Justice in the second term In the autumn of 1917, he was appointed envoy to Switzerland, but he did not manage to present his credentials due to the arrival of the authorized representative of the RSFSR YA.Berzin, but was recognized by the Swiss government as de facto, after lecturing on international relations at the Faculty of Law of the Sorbonne and at the Hague Academy of International Law, died in exile in 1945)

The Russian parliamentary group visited England and France in 1909. This was the first official delegation of Russian parliamentarians abroad. It was not without diplomatic curiosity. Within the framework of the visit, a reception was planned for the English King Edward VII. Having learned that the member of the official delegation of the State Duma is a Muslim deputy, S.Maksudov, a Tatar by nationality, the Protocol Service of the British monarch made attempts to prevent him from meeting with the king under the pretext that he had never met with Muslims in official delegations . The Russian delegation nevertheless insisted on the mandatory participation in the meeting of all its members without discriminatory exceptions, with which the host agreed in the end. So, it can be said that the Russian parliamentarians already demonstrated a more progressive view of human rights than representatives of the “senior” British democracy. And after the October Revolution Sadretdin Nizametdinovich Maksudov was invited by Ataturk to participate in the construction of a new Turkey, founded the law school in Ankara and three times was a member of the Turkish parliament. Today the monument is decorated by the park “Istanbul” in Kazan.

For the first time as full members of the Inter-Parliamentary Council (the governing body of the IPU), parliamentarians from Russia participated in the 16th conference in Brussels in 1910. And with the submission of our delegation, at once the question was raised about changing the Statute of the Ministry of Railways “in the sense of expanding the tasks of the latter”. The Russian group introduced an amendment to the proposal of the commission, which more accurately determines the functions of the Union. The amendment was supported, and the new text of the Charter was adopted unanimously.

The Russian group actively participated in the work of the Union, sending its delegations to all conferences. Its authorship, for example, is the elaboration of a draft convention on mediation in the settlement of international disputes. The document, authored by IN Efremov, foresaw the creation of a permanent international institute of intermediaries, consisting of 20 members and 10 deputies elected at periodic peace conferences. Later I.N. Efremov was elected chairman of the Commission for the neutralization of straits and sea channels created by the Ministry of Railways and a member of the Commission on International Jurisdiction and Mediation between States.


The cessation of the existence of the Russian Empire and the formation of a new state, categorically rejecting succession in relation to its predecessor, led to the suspension of domestic activities in the Ministry of Railways for more than three decades.

The Interparliamentary Union, for its part, continued to show an interest in attracting parliamentarians from the RSFSR and the USSR to participate in its activities and took active steps in this direction. In April 1945, for example, the Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, V. G. Dekanozov, received the invitation of the Soviet parliamentarians to be a member of the MPS Board, K. Sundström (future Finnish Ambassador to the USSR from 1945 to 1953), to act as guests of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. However, the Soviet side did not take advantage of this invitation. But a year later, at a conference in Copenhagen in April 1946, its participants repeatedly expressed their desire for the participation of the USSR in the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The Ministry of Communications tried to achieve the “inclusion” of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in its orbit, methodically sending personal messages to the leaders of the Soviet parliament with an invitation to every conference of the Union until 1955. And this perseverance was rewarded: on June 10, 1955, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR KE Voroshilov sent a note to the Central Committee of the CPSU on the procedure for the formation of a national parliamentary group of the USSR and registration of membership in the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The meeting of deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, which was held on June 29, 1955, was ordered to make a decision on the formation of such a national group and its accession to the Ministry of Railways, prepare an appeal to all the deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR with the proposal to join the parliamentary group of the USSR, to approve the clause on the group, bureau of the national parliamentary group of the USSR and two representatives to the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The parliamentary group of the USSR was admitted to the Union and participated in the 44th Inter-Parliamentary Conference, which was held in Helsinki in August 1955.

The activities of the Parliamentary Group of the USSR as a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union consisted of three main parts: first, participation in the work of the bodies of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, where international problems were studied and discussed and solutions were developed; secondly, the information of the leadership and members of the Ministry of Railways on the foreign policy acts of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and clarification of the foreign policy of the Soviet state; thirdly, developing contacts and strengthening ties with other parliamentary groups by exchanging delegations and mutual visits of individual parliamentarians “in the interest of improving mutual understanding and friendship among peoples”.

It is important to note that the activities of the Parliamentary Group of the USSR were not only the nature of participation in the regular activities of the IPU bodies, but also expressed in the form of statements in their letters and addresses of the USSR’s positions on international events, trying to draw the attention of parliamentary circles of foreign countries to them. Thus, appeals and letters addressed to the leadership of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, its members and selected prominent parliamentarians in connection with the armed intervention of the United States and Britain in Lebanon and Jordan in the summer of 1958, the shooting of a demonstration in defense of the Prime Minister of Congo Patrice Lumumba in Leopoldville in January 1959 and etc.

A vivid example of the effectiveness of such appeals can be the Statement of the Parliamentary Group of the USSR in May 1962 in connection with the World Congress for General Disarmament and Peace. Pointing to the growing arms race, which is heating up the international situation and increasing the threat of nuclear war, the Parliamentary Group of the USSR in this statement stressed the great importance of mobilizing public opinion in the struggle to end the arms race, getting rid of the threat of war and ensuring peace throughout the world. The World Congress for General Disarmament and Peace, attended by more than 200 parliamentarians from around the world, was held in Moscow from July 9 to July 14, 1962.

The strengthening of the positions of the Parliamentary Group of the USSR in the Ministry of Railways was also facilitated by visits to our country in 1981 by the Secretary General of the IPU, Pio Carlo Terenzio, and the Chairman of the Interparliamentary Council, Rafael Caldera, in the same year.

The parliamentary group of the USSR had its own periodical publication – the Bulletin of the Inter-Parliamentary Group of the USSR, which was published twice a year in Russian.

Until 1991, the Soviet parliamentarians actively worked in all bodies of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, came forward with initiatives on resolutions and adopted statements that related to topical issues on the international agenda of the relevant period. Interestingly, in addition to compulsory work in the organs of the Union, separate sections on establishing relations between other national parliamentary groups were established in the Parliamentary Group of the USSR on a reciprocal basis. I believe that such a format of interparliamentary relations on a bilateral basis with the use of such a universal platform as the Ministry of Railways can well be considered as an example for organizing our work in the Council of Federation’s Committee on International Affairs.


From September 7 to 12, 1998, the 100th conference of the Union was held for the first time in the history of Russia’s membership in the Ministry of Railways in Moscow. The decision to hold the session within the specified timeframe was adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Council in September 1997 during the 98th Conference in Cairo (Egypt). The Russian conference was attended by 1,243 delegates, including 693 parliamentarians, from 123 member parliaments (the total number of members of the Ministry of Railways at that time was -136). The ceremony was attended by the President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, who proclaimed the anniversary conference of the Ministry of Railways open.

At the conference in Moscow, three resolutions were adopted: “Active actions of parliaments in the year of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a view to ensuring the promotion and protection of all human rights in the twenty-first century”; “Water: the means necessary for the conservation, management and best use of this resource, essential for sustainable development”; “Actions to combat warming and drug trafficking and organized crime”.

The 100th session was also remarkable for two extraordinary events, one of which could not have been exactly planned by the organizers in advance. On September 10, the delegates of the conference were given the opportunity to attend the first public speech of Foreign Minister E.Primakov in his new capacity: on the morning of the same day, the distinguished diplomat and scholar was proposed by the President of the Russian Federation, Boris N. Yeltsin, to the post of prime minister.

Yevgeny Primakov, who repeatedly took part in the events of the Ministry of Railways as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, in his speech noted that holding the 100th anniversary session of the Ministry of Railways in Moscow was “a sign of support for the world parliamentary community of Russians at an uneasy moment in their history, in that we, relying on our large-scale opportunities, will overcome the crisis phenomena “13. “Russia,” continued Primakov, “does not think of its future without further strengthening of parliamentary institutions, the development of inter-parliamentary ties. In our opinion, this is the guarantee of the irreversibility of the process of democratization of international relations, the formation of a new world order that meets the interests of all states and peoples. ”

Another important event of the conference was the formation on September 6, 1998 of the geopolitical group “Eurasia” in the presence of the delegations of the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Tajikistan in the IPU14.


The Federation Council, as the chamber of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, attaches great importance to the activities of the Inter-Parliamentary Union as the largest and most representative international platform for the development of parliamentary diplomacy. Especially in a situation where the activities of some other international parliamentary structures are in fact paralyzed by the Russophobic activity of Western and pro-Western delegations. Created by a group of parliamentarians in 1889, the Inter-Parliamentary Union became the most representative international parliamentary organization, which currently has 173 parliaments and 11 international parliamentary organizations as associate members. And this is a structure that has demonstrated its stability against attempts to subordinate it to someone’s group dictatorship and turn it into yet another institution promoting the global unipolarity model.

In preparation for the upcoming historic event, the holding of the 137th Assembly of the Ministry of Railways in Russia, the Federation Council at its meeting adopted a Statement on Russian participation in the activities of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

We supported the initiative of the Interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS member states on the establishment of the International Day of Parliamentaryism on 30 June in honor of the anniversary of the founding assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in 1889 in Paris. The practical implementation of this initiative has already begun, and we hope that they will be embodied in concrete steps at the 137th Assembly in the Tauride Palace. In the very place where more than a century ago a historic decision was made to join the State Duma of the Russian Empire. I think that is what is called the circle of history, which will be closed in October in St. Petersburg.

At the initiative of the Russian delegation, the Assembly in St. Petersburg will adopt a resolution “Towards the 20th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Democracy: The Community of Our Diversity”, which reflects that there is no universal model of democracy and that democracy is not the exclusive privilege of any country or region . Speaker from Russia on this resolution is Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council IM-S.Umahanov.

Summarizing this detailed historical excursion, I would like to note that the active work of the parliamentary groups of the State Duma of the Russian Empire, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in the Inter-Parliamentary Union has lasted (albeit intermittently) for over a century. The name of the country, the state system, the names of delegates changed, but the goals remained unified and successive: consistently uphold state interests in full accordance with the purposes and principles laid down in the Charter of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

The decision to hold the Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in St. Petersburg on October 14-18, 2017 is an undoubted success of the interparliamentary movement and the majority of states that seek to build international relations on the principles of equality, democracy, respect and consideration of mutual interests.

We will do our best to ensure that the 137th Assembly of the IPU is held at a high organizational level, in an atmosphere of an open exchange of views of all participants in the forum, without exception, that promotes the values ​​of democracy, intercultural, interfaith and inter-ethnic dialogue.

1 See: Kosachev, K.I. Inter-Parliamentary Union: will the mountain give birth to a mouse or interference in non-intervention? // International life. 2016. № 11. Pp. 6-17.

2Ch. on: Shvetsov V.L. Inter-Parliamentary Union. Moscow: International Relations, 1969. P. 15.

3RGIA. F. 1278. Op. 1-1. D. 11. L. 1-3

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