MOSCOW, January 18. /TASS/. Russia will pay one-third of its contribution to the Council of Europe in February, speaker of the Russian State Duma lower house of parliament Sergey Naryshkin told journalists on Monday.
"As for the contribution, then we — the Russian Federation — will pay in February part of this contribution [to the Council of Europe] in the amount of one-third of the sum and then we’ll monitor the situation," he said.
Naryshkin said that he meant Russia’s Council of Europe membership fee. "If I’m not mistaken, the sum is about €32 million," the Duma speaker said.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Russia’s annual fee to the United Nations Organization 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.
On November 27, Duma speaker Sergey Naryshkin said in a commentary published on his personal website the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe 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 said.
It became known on Monday that the Russian delegation will not attend the January session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Duma members previously have repeatedly said that the issue of Russia’s participation in the January session of the PACE is linked with the position on the payment of the Russian membership fee to the Council of Europe and that the decisions on both issues would be taken in January.
Russia’s delegation will not apply for participation in the January session of PACE, Sergey Naryshkin said on Monday.
"We have decided to refrain from applying for participation in PACE’s January session," he said, adding that the Russian side would keep a close eye on the development of the situation.
"We will take a different decision when conditions for an open and equal parliamentary dialogue are back in place," he stressed.
According to the Russian lower house speaker, the Russian delegation keeps resisting the decisions depriving the Russian delegation of a number of significant rights for which ends it cannot realize its parliamentary functions. "We believe that these decisions were passed on the basis of superficial, if not biased, vision to the causes and events of Ukraine’s domestic crisis," Naryshkin said.
However, he noted, the situation within the PACE is changing, with more and more delegates demonstrating support to equal parliamentary dialogue.
Earlier, Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the Duma committee on the affairs of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Eurasian integration and relations with compatriots, said that the Russian delegation would skip PACE’s winter session. "A letter signed by the speakers of the Russian parliament’s both houses has been sent to PACE President Anne Brasseur to inform that a request on the Russian delegation’s competences in 2016 will be submitted later," he said. "We will skip the January session."
A source familiar with the situation told TASS on Saturday that January 15 was the deadline when national delegations were to present the lists of their delegations to the 2016 session. "The Russian delegation has submitted no such lists," the source said.
Russia’s delegation at PACE was deprived of the right to vote and take part in the PACE charter bodies and monitoring activities in April 2014 following Crimea’s reunification with Russia. In June 2015, a PACE session extended the Russian delegation’s mandate but did not lift the anti-Russian sanctions. In response, the Russian delegation said it suspended its participation in PACE activities till the end of 2015 and has been skipping PACE sessions in protest against the sanctions ever since. The leaders of the Russian delegation repeatedly said Russia would be back in PACE after all the sanctions are lifted off its delegation.
PACE’s winter session will be held in Strasbourg on January 25-29.
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.