MOSCOW, February 10. /TASS/. The change of political format of Russia’s presence in the Council of Europe (CE) should be considered in order to prevent any attempts by Western countries to "judge" Russia, State Duma’s International Affairs Committee chairman Alexey Pushkov said on Wednesday.
"Of course, we should take the course of returning to PACE, and we should definitely stay in the Council of Europe as it confirms our European identity and gives us additional opportunities to influence processes in Europe. However, we should start considering changes in political format and politician meaning of our participation in this organization," Pushkov told an Open Tribune session devoted to "20 Years in the Council of Europe."
The Russian lawmaker said that CE "should be an organization based on equality, not an organization where Russia allows Western countries to judge it - its political practice and its values." "I think that we should gradually refuse it," he noted.
"It will be long and complicated work but this does not mean that it should not be set as a goal," 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.