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ST. PETERSBURG, May 19. /TASS/. The visit of President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Pedro Agramunt to Russia and his participation in the session of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly represents an intention to restore cooperation with Russia, State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin said on Thursday.
"I consider your visit as a manifestation of an intention of leadership of PACE and Council of Europe to establish cooperation with Russian parliamentarians in full measure without any restrictions, without discrimination and in full accordance with the charter of the Council of Europe that states that all CE member states, all parliamentary delegations have equal rights," Naryshkin said at the meeting with Agramunt. "We know you as a very experienced and reasonable politician," he added.
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. Earlier, head of Russian State Duma’s International Affairs Committee Alexey Pushkov said that the absence of the Russian delegation in PACE means not only physical absence from Strasbourg during sessions and absence in the meeting room. According to him, 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.
Russian parliamentary delegates left the April session in 2014 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.