MOSCOW, June 23. /TASS/. Speaker of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Sergei Naryshkin has confirmed that the actions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) made its participation in monitoring State Duma elections impossible.
"As for my stance regarding observers from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, I said on numerous occasions, and I can say that again that PACE’s undemocratic decision on restricting the rights of the Russian parliamentary delegation running counter to the principles of parliamentarism and democracy made its participation in the parliamentary elections in Russia as observers impossible," Naryshkin told reporters on Thursday.
PACE President Pedro Agramunt earlier said that the assembly’s observers should work at the elections to Russia’s State Duma. However, Naryshkin noted that Russia’s stance remains unchanged. The PACE mission will not be able to work until the sanctions against the Russian delegation are lifted.
Russia’s delegation at PACE was stripped of its key rights in April 2014 over developments in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
PACE, the parliamentary arm of the 47-nation Council of Europe, promoting democracy and human rights across the continent, voted twice on a possibility of restoring the Russian delegation’s powers but the restrictions remain in force. Russia is stripped of the right to vote and take part in the PACE governing bodies and its monitoring activities.
Owing to these restrictions, the Russian delegation suspended its participation in the PACE work until late 2015. The leadership of the Russian delegation has repeatedly said it would return to PACE only if all the sanctions were lifted. In January 2016, Russia refused to bid for confirming its powers this year.
CIS, CSTO, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly officials to be invited to observe Duma elections
Representatives of several international parliamentary organizations, including the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) will be invited to observe the Russian State Duma elections in September 2016, Sergei Naryshkin went on to say on Thursday.
"Obviously, representatives of the CIS Parliamentary Assembly, CSTO, Parliamentary Assembly of Russia and Belarus, and certainly, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, will be invited as observers", Naryshkin said, answering journalists' questions.
The elections to the seventh State Duma will be held on September 18, for the first time after a long interval under a mixed electoral system: 225 deputies will be elected on party lists and 225 in single-seat constituencies.
According to the law, the Russian president, the government, both houses of the Federal Assembly and the Central Election Commission (CEC) have the right to invite foreign observers to monitor the country’s elections. Previously, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that representatives of the CIS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) would be invited as observers.
Russia will hold elections to the State Duma on September 18. Under law, foreign observers can be invited to monitor elections by the Russian president, government, both houses of the Federal Assembly (parliament) and the Central Election Commission.