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US demarche against No. 3 in Russian politics harms bilateral relations

August 27, 2015, 16:58 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Russian Federation Council

Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Russian Federation Council

© TASS/Ilya Pitalev

MOSCOW, August 27. /TASS/. The United States’ demarche against No. 3 official in Russia’s political establishment - the decision to issue a restricted visa to Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Federation Council (upper house of parliament) - is a clear sign Washington is reluctant to mend relations with Moscow, which aggravates the no easy international situation still further, polled experts have told TASS.

A delegation of Russia’s Federation Council was to take part in a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on August 31-September 2 at the UN headquarters. The question of granting a visa to Matviyenko, included in the US sanction list, had remained suspended for a long time. "The visa that was issued after repeated procrastinations sets a number of impermissible restrictions regarding Matviyenko’s presence in the United States. For instance, she was prohibited from attending any IPU meetings or other activities. In a situation like this a visit by the Matviyenko-led delegation to New York became impossible," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee, Andrey Klimov, has told TASS: "The United States jumped at the opportunity to point out that formally the IPU is not an organization within the UN system. In the meantime, the IPU is twice older than the United Nations and unites legislators from nearly all countries, while the United States is not its member." Klimov remarked that such actions by the US authorities were unable to resolve either the Ukrainian problem or any issues in bilateral relations.

The director of the Institute of US and Canada Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sergey Rogov, says Washington’s demarche against a politician who is number three in Russia’s political establishment is unprecedented. "Even in the Cold War years Washington and Moscow maintained inter-parliamentary contacts and delegation exchanges. Of late, the US Congress terminated all contacts with Russia’s parliament," Rogov told TASS.

"The introduction of individual sanctions against both houses of the Russian parliament violates the spirit and letter of international agreements concerning the activities of inter-parliamentary organizations. This situation heralds an unmistakable U-turn towards the Cold War era. Washington leaves no room for mending bilateral relations, but on the contrary takes ever more steps to turn them from bad to worse. One can expect that after the presidential election in the United States the White House will take a still harder line," Rogov said.

Asked about US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s remark in an interview to TASS the United States would cooperate with Moscow "where our interests are aligned," Rogov said: "Washington turns to Moscow there where its own policies are stalled, for instance, in Syria." Rogov recalled that Barack Obama four years ago said that Syria’s President Bashar Assad must step down. But that has not happened to this day. Moreover, Syria has been plunged into civil war and saw the emergence of a terrorist Islamic State, which is a menace to the whole world.

"Washington has been maneuvering and trying to get Russia involved in the solution of the Syrian crisis. US Secretary of State John Kerry met with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi last May precisely for this purpose, and the United States’ new special envoy for Syria, Michael Ratney will visit Moscow at the end of August," Rogov said.

Some in Russia’s Federation Council have suggested expanding Russia’s counter-sanction list in retaliation for Matviyenko’s disrupted visit. Says Rogov: "It would be wrong to yield to emotions and stage a contest as to who can slam the door shut with a louder bang. Such measures can achieve nothing in bilateral relations. Making public comments in response to Washington’s unfriendly moves is necessary. But efforts to push ahead with really constructive policies must never ease."

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