October 23, 2008
CARACAS -- Venezuela's top anti-corruption official on Thursday defended his decision to bar nearly 300 politicians from running in next month's local and state elections, downplaying a European Union resolution that strongly condemned his actions.
Comptroller General Clodosbaldo Russian, a close ally of President Hugo Chávez, argued Venezuelan law gives him the right to impose electoral sanctions on citizens suspected of corruption.
''It's not a violation of human rights, it's a measure against corruption,'' said Russian, who released a list in February of 272 mostly opposition-aligned politicians banned from running in the Nov. 23 elections while they are under investigation for alleged acts of corruption.
In a resolution approved on Thursday, the E.U. parliament said banning candidates is just one in a series of government measures designed to intimidate the opposition.
E.U. lawmakers voted 51 to 1 in favor of the resolution, which urged the Chávez government to ``foster a more participatory government.''
Thursday's E.U. resolution also criticized Chávez for expelling two human rights activists last month.