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MOSCOW, January 29. /TASS/. Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will not be able to monitor elections to the State Duma in 2016, Duma’s International Affairs Committee chairman Alexey Pushkov told a press conference in TASS on Friday.
"The absence of the Russian delegation in PACE means not only our physical absence from Strasbourg during sessions and absence in the meeting room," Pushkov said. "All forms of cooperation that existed between Russia and PACE — preparation of reports by PACE on the Russian territory, visits by representatives and members of monitoring missions, our contacts with PACE’s official representatives — everything is cancelled," he noted.
"Consequently, PACE’s participation in monitoring Russian elections is cancelled as well," the lawmaker stressed. "At the same time, this does not mean that there will be no other international observers from several international organizations — OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and several others that will, of course, be able to participate in monitoring Russian elections," Pushkov 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.
The Russian delegation is not taking part in PACE’s winter session underway in Strasbourg.