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MOSCOW, October 6. /TASS/. Russia’s new delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will be formed in the near future, head of the State Duma (lower house of parliament) International Affairs Committee, Leonid Slutsky, told reporters on Thursday.
"I think the State Duma part of the delegation will meet literally within a month, as the part of the Federation Council (upper house of parliament) has already been formed," he said.
Slutsky added that for the time being the process of forming the delegation will be a sheer formality, since Russia is not involved in the current work of PACE. "Therefore, there is no hurry, but I think we will hold a meeting of the new delegation in the coming weeks," he said.
The parliamentarian emphasized that Russia had not stopped its work with the assembly’s political groups. "The PACE Presidential Committee was in Moscow in full force on September 6-7, and this indicates that Strasbourg needs Russia and is frantically looking for ways to bring the Russian delegation back," he said.
Slutsky noted though that the Russian delegation will return to PACE only if guarantees are provided that its powers will not be challenged again. "If the very possibility of making discriminatory decisions on national delegations’ powers persists, we will not be prepared to return to full-fledged work in PACE," he said. He admitted that, if this is the case, the delegation could go to Strasbourg in a narrow format.
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.