MOSCOW, January 20. /TASS/. Media reports that say the Russian delegation was suspended from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) are nothing more than speculations, State Duma’s International Affairs Committee chairman Alexey Pushkov told a briefing on Wednesday.
"No decision on suspending Russia has been made, and it could not have been made. We only say that we were informed about the consequences of our decision not to request powers," Pushkov, who heads the Russian delegation to PACE, said. The consequences are that the Russian delegation will not take part in the work of PACE, he added.
"This is our decision, not PACE’s. PACE’s governing structures did not gather on this occasion to consider this matter," the lawmaker stressed. He reminded that the January session of the Parliamentary Assembly has not started yet and "statements about suspending the Russian delegation are illegal and speculative."
"I think that Ukrainian media are promoting this position as it is absolutely unimportant for them what is going on. What is important for them is to interpret everything from the anti-Russian point of view. I am surprised that some Russian media are interpreting this letter (statement of PACE President Anne Brasseur) in the same manner though nothing is said there about suspension," the lawmaker stressed.
According to Pushkov, in the absence of Russia, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in fact throws itself to the sidelines of political negotiations on settling the Ukrainian crisis.
"Russia does not lose anything because we can compensate for our absence from PACE in 2016 by participating on other platforms. PACE, in my opinion, loses a lot," Pushkov, who heads the Russian delegation to PACE, said. Relations with Russia "are among key matters on the agenda of the Council of Europe and, of course, Parliamentary Assembly," he stressed.
"In the conditions when the Ukrainian crisis has not been resolved yet, PACE, having no possibility to talk to Russia, in fact throws itself to the sidelines of political negotiations on Ukraine," Pushkov noted.
He said that is not a coincident that the "Normandy format" includes the leaders of four countries - Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine. "It is clear that the ‘Normandy format’ is impossible without Russia, it loses any relevance. Discussing the Ukrainian crisis and adopting any resolutions on this matter in PACE is a purely rhetorical or propagandistic exercise without Russia," the lawmaker concluded.
In 2014 the parliamentary arm of the 47-nation Council of Europe, promoting democracy and human rights across the continent, stripped Russia of voting rights following events in Ukraine. It suspended both Russia's right to sit on its governing bodies and Russian participation in election observer missions.
Russian parliamentary delegates left the April session before its official completion as a gesture of protest and refused to take part in future PACE activities, staying away from the assembly's summer and autumn sessions. At the January session in 2015, PACE extended its sanctions against Russia’s delegation until April. In response, Moscow severed contact with the group for another year. The Russian delegation repeatedly stated that it will return to PACE only if all sanctions from Russia are removed.
PACE’s winter session will take place in Strasbourg on 25-29 January 2016. Russian State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin said that the Russian delegation will not take part in the January session.