MOSCOW, January 18. /TASS/. Russia’s return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in 2016 is theoretically possible only after the elections to the State Duma, Chairman of the State Duma lower house International Affairs Committee and head of Russia’s delegation to the PACE Alexei Pushkov told reporters on Monday.
"After the elections, Russia may again appeal [with a request for rights in the PACE]," Pushkov said. He noted that this would depend "on the dates of the September-October session, on the dates when the State Duma would convene its first session after the September elections."
"So, [Russia’s] return in 2016 is theoretically possible. But, as for the expediency of such return, my view is that until conditions are created for the full-fledged return of the Russian delegation, we must refrain from working in this organization," Pushkov said.
According to Alexey Pushkov, the return of Russian lawmakers to PACE is linked to the possible revision of EU sanctions against Russia.
Speaking about the conditions for Russia’s full-fledged return to PACE, Pushkov said that "this would be linked to the process of reviewing the EU’s sanctions against Russia." "PACE is not an independent organization, whatever it says about itself. The majority of PACE delegations represent the ruling parties of the EU member-countries. These lawmakers are, naturally, guided by the official stance of their governments and their parties' leadership," he told reporters on Monday.
"Therefore, when the EU will begin reviewing its anti-Russian sanctions, in my opinion, political conditions may be created for renouncing them and for a number of delegations of the EU countries at the PACE to be in favor of renouncing the illegal sanctions that were imposed against the Russian delegation," Pushkov noted.
Russia’s delegation to the PACE was stripped of the right to vote and take part in the PACE charter bodies and monitoring activities in April 2014 over developments in Ukraine and 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 from it.
Speaker of Russia’s State Duma Sergey Naryshkin said earlier on Monday that the Russian delegation would not apply for participation in the January session of the PACE due to be held in Strasbourg from January 25 to January 29.