MOSCOW, September 13. /TASS/. Kiev is blackmailing PACE with its statements on non-participation in its work in case of Russia’s return but is unlikely to go that far, Chairman of Russia’s State Duma lower house International Affairs Committee and head of the Russian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Alexei Pushkov told TASS on Tuesday.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin earlier said that Kiev may consider termination of its participation in PACE work, if a decision is made on restoring the powers of the Russian delegation in that organization.
"I believe Klimkin’s statement that Ukraine may withdraw from PACE, if all powers are returned to Russia, is an attempt to blackmail the assembly’s leadership," Pushkov said.
The parliamentarian added though that Kiev will hardly make up its mind to leave PACE. "For a country that has not so many capabilities to influence the situation that would mean that it would deprive itself of one of these opportunities," he noted. "This frequent intimidation is aimed at a certain psychological effect, at drawing attention to Ukraine’s stance once again." "However, due to the fact that this stance never changes, and Ukraine shows no disposition whatsoever towards resuming dialogue with Russia, I do not think at the moment it will be viewed positively in serious political circles in European countries," the lawmaker said.
Russia’s delegation at PACE was deprived of its key rights in April 2014 over developments in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. In 2015, PACE 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.
Speaker of the Russian State Duma Sergey Naryshkin told reporters following the September 7 talks with the PACE delegation led by its President Pedro Agramunt that the PACE leadership said it is looking forward to the full resumption of Moscow’s work in the assembly. Naryshkin also confirmed that Russian parliamentarians are ready to continue full-scale cooperation with PACE but "observing the principle of equality, which is fundamental for that organization.".