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STARSBOURG, October 3 (Itar-Tass) —— The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has prevented a serious crisis in relations between Russia and the Council of Europe by refusing to transfer control over Russia monitoring to the Council of Europe’s executive bodies, State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman and head of the Russian delegation Alexei Pushkov said.
Doing otherwise would have led to sharp confrontation between Moscow and Strasbourg, he said on Wednesday, October 3.
“That this did not happen is in fact our victory. Russia benefited as did the Council of Europe. The PACE itself benefitted,” he stressed.
The Council of Europe leadership welcomed the decision. “I talked with senior officials in the Council of Europe. They shared the opinion of the Russian delegation that the adoption of recommendations would be an excessive measure and a short-sighted and unconstructive step. They regarded the final position of the PACE as a good outcome,” Pushkov said.
He recalled that Russia had not wanted a conflict from the very beginning and had been ready to discuss a strong resolution. “Now we are ready to look for solutions in relations with the Council of Europe and mechanisms for implementing PACE resolutions,” he said.
In the resolution adopted on October 2, the PACE noted positive steps taken by the Russian leadership towards democratisation such as amendments to the law on political parties, changes to the election law and restoration of direct gubernatorial elections.
However, as Pushkov said earlier, the report develops into “a substantial and not quite objective critical part” where the PACE voiced concern about some steps undertaken lately by the Russian leadership and about democracy in Russia in general. The Assembly’s concern was brought about in particular by some of the laws adopted in Russia, such as those on criminal penalties for libel, on “black” websites and amendments to the laws on assembly and NGOs (foreign agents).