MOSCOW, February 10. /TASS/. Representatives of Western countries cause serious harm to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) by creating obstacles for Russia’s work in the Assembly, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Meshkov said on Wednesday.
"I want to stress once again that we fully support the decision of the leaders of both houses of parliament on the issue of our delegation’s participation in PACE’s winter session," Meshkov told a roundtable "20 Years in Council of Europe" at Russian State Duma.
"In my opinion, our Western colleagues cause great harm to the Parliamentary Assembly itself because every functioning mechanism requires not only an ‘engine’ but also an ‘exhaust pipe’ through which controversial things will go through," he went on. "The Parliamentary Assembly was the ‘exhaust pipe’ of the Council of Europe. It lost this function in Russia’s absence, and gases emitted there poison the atmosphere not only in the Assembly, but also in CE and in Europe in general," Meshkov 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.