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MOSCOW, October 20. /TASS/. Russia’s delegation will return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) only if all its rights, including the voting right, are restored, new State Duma’s Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on Thursday.
"Of course, the delegation can return, but only in case if the rights are not violated and if our delegation has the right to a position, to voice its point of view, and of course to vote because people won’t understand anything else," Volodin told reporters.
Volodin also stressed that Moscow is ready to invite Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Pedro Agramunt to Moscow for a bilateral meeting.
"Bilateral contacts are necessary, constant dialogue is necessary, but as far as the Russian delegation’s participation (in PACE’s activities) goes, it will only become possible after all our rights will have been restored," Volodin said.
He confirmed that he was soon going to answer Agramunt’s letter in which the PACE chairman had congratulated him on being elected the Duma speaker, spoke in favor of Russia’s return to PACE and expressed willingness to meet with him.
"But as for our work in PACE, it will only become possible when PACE starts adhering to democratic principles and stops violating the delegations’ rights," the Duma speaker stressed. "Because the way PACE denied the Russian delegation’s right to vote was egregious. This is an unacceptable step towards any country’s delegation," the State Duma speaker concluded.
The European parliaments’ representatives, who made discriminatory decisions against Russia at PACE, need to "change approaches," Volodin added. "After this, of course, we can speak about the beginning of joint work and participation," he 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.
PACE President Pedro Agramunt said in a letter to Volodin released on Wednesday the Assembly as one of statutory bodies of the Council of Europe should be a platform for political dialogue between parliamentary delegations from all 47 member-states.