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Russia’s fee to Council of Europe remains due — source

January 18, 2016, 11:10 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Russia won't not attend the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)

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© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS Archive

MOSCOW, January 18. /TASS/. Russia has not transferred its fee to the Council of Europe yet, a well-informed source at the Russian State Duma (parliament) told reporters on Monday.

"I can tell you that the payment has not been made, but you’d rather ask about it (the State Duma speaker) Sergei Naryshkin," the source said.

Earlier on Monday, deputy head of the country’s delegation Leonid Slutsky said Russia would not attend the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). "We will skip the January session," said Slutsky, who chairs the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Contacts with Compatriots.

PACE’s winter session will take place in Strasbourg on January 25-29.

On Friday, Leonid Kalashnikov, first deputy chairman of the State Duma committee for international affairs and a member of the Russian delegation at the PACE said "according to my data, a resolution is currently being prepared for its signing by State Duma and Federation Council Speakers Sergei Naryshkin and Valentina Matviyenko to the effect that the delegation will not go to Strasbourg."

The Russian lawmaker said at the same time that amid the discrimination policy and the sanctions pressure in PACE, the refusal from participation in the PACE session where the issue of depriving the Russian delegation of its powers would be obviously raised again "is quite logical."

"Even if we go there, discrimination will continue all the same," Kalashnikov said.

In mid-December, 2015, head of the State Duma's committee on international affairs Alexey Pushkov said Russia would make a decision on whether it will participate in the PACE winter session in January.

"We are considering now how to behave regarding PACE, a decision will be due in January, but, of course, prior to the session," he said. He said the topic is related to the issue of Russia’s settling its fee for the Council of Europe. "It (decision on the fee) is also due in mid-January," the legislator said.

On November 27, speaker of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) Sergey Naryshkin said in a commentary published on his personal website the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) had recently indulged in mentoring neglecting major international issues.

Naryshkin recalled that 18 months earlier he had published an open letter to PACE President Anne Brasseur, adding that his commentary was timed for this event. "Tomorrow will mark 18 months since I sent a letter to PACE head Ms. Brasseur, in which I put it bluntly that stripping our delegation of the voting rights was nothing else but the imposition of the so-called sanctions on three dozen of lawmakers elected by the Russian people and that this decision was directed against the European parliamentarism. It will bring the assembly ‘Herostratic fame’ (fame at any cost)," the State Duma speaker said.

He noted that, unfortunately, "throughout the past and this year, PACE continued to indulge in mentoring neglecting a number of major international issues." By contrast, Russian lawmakers have worked at all international events as actively as never before… and, contrary to the expectations of our opponents, received dozens of representatives of the European parliaments and European parliamentarians. "We could do easily without the Strasbourg venue," he noted.

On November 11, Naryshkin suggested not to hurry with payment of the 2016 annual fee. "Indeed, we must not hurry with the payment of the fee [for 2016]," he said at a session reviewing Russia’s 20 years in the Council of Europe. He said at any rate Russia should not hurry with paying off the whole fee this year.

The Russian delegation to the PACE was stripped of powers in April, 2014 because of Moscow’s stance on Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. In 2015, the Parliamentary Assembly has taken decisions twice on the possible restoration of the Russian delegation’s voting rights, but the restrictions remain in force. Russia is denied of its right to vote at the Assembly sessions and excluded from the organization’s governing bodies. In response to these sanctions, the Russian delegation has suspended its participation in the work of the PACE until the end of this year.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Russia’s annual fee to the United Nations Organisation is about $30 million. The fee to the Council of Europe is indivisible and it is an aggregated fee to PACE, the Committee of Ministers, the European Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and to the European Court of Human Rights - the total of about $40 million.

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