MAGADAN, October 13. /TASS/. Moscow may quit the Council of Europe, if the current crisis in the relations between Russia and the PACE (the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) persists, Speaker of the State Duma (the lower house of Russia’s parliament) Vyacheslav Volodin said on Saturday.
"We can speak to the effect that if this goes on, then, of course, we do not rule out quitting this structure," Volodin said in an interview with anchorman of Vesti v Subbotu (Saturday News) TV program Sergei Brilyov.
This situation is related to the crisis in the relations between Russia and the PACE, which has been continuing for over four years, and also by the PACE’s inability to make amendments to its work procedure on excluding the possibility of discriminating against national delegations, Volodin said.
"More than a half of the judges of the European court were elected. We did not participate. The human rights commissioner was elected. We did not participate," Volodin said.
Russia will resume making monetary contributions to the budget of the Council of Europe, if amendments are made to the work procedure of its Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on cancelling the sanctions norms that allow discriminating against national delegations, Volodin went on to say.
"If the Parliamentary Assembly implements these principles, we will, of course, participate in its work. And, of course, we will [fulfill] all the commitments, both making a contribution and participating in its work. And this issue will be closed," Volodin said.
In April 2014, Russia’s delegation was stripped of the voting rights at PACE in the wake of events in Ukraine and Crimea's reunification with Russia.
PACE discussed the restoration of the delegation's powers twice in 2015 but sanctions against Moscow were just toughening then. The Russian delegation was denied the right to vote and to take part in the activities of PACE's governing bodies and election monitoring missions.
Russia’s delegation said in response it would not attend PACE sessions under these conditions. It did not send a query for the confirmation of its powers in 2016 and 2017 because of the anti-Russia sentiments prevailing in Strasbourg.
At the end of June 2017, Moscow was reported to be suspending its payments to the Council of Europe, as Russia’s delegation was not taking part in the PACE routine. Simultaneously, Russia suggested that PACE’s procedural documents be amended with a provision stipulating no one was authorized to strip national delegations of their rights.
Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland told the PACE autumn session on October 10 that the organization's Committee of Ministers will have to expel Russia from the Council of Europe if the country does not make monetary contributions. In accordance with the Statute of the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers may temporarily suspend membership of a country that has not been making monetary contributions for two years. Russia stopped making contributions in 2017 against the backdrop of a crisis in relations with PACE. The two-year timeframe for failure to make monetary contributions will end for Russia in June 2019.
Since 1996, Russia was one of the five key donors to the Council of Europe. By the time some of the payments were canceled in 2017, the annual contribution had amounted to 33 million euros.