MOSCOW, December 6. /TASS/. Russia does not consider returning to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to be an end in itself, speaker of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament), Vyacheslav Volodin, said on Tuesday at a meeting with Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland.
"I would like to emphasize that, amid the temporary suspension of the Russian parliamentary delegation’s participation in PACE’s activities, our parliament has not taken and has no intension of taking any steps aimed at self-isolation," he said. "Moreover, we do not consider Russia’s return to PACE a goal in itself. We are talking about creating the conditions that would prevent a repetition of such crisis situations not only with regard to Russia but, most importantly, with regard to any other parliamentary delegation of any other country the parliamentary delegation represents," he noted.
"The Russian delegation is ready to return to the OSCE PA only if the discriminatory measures are lifted," the State Duma speaker said. "We believe that when a parliamentary delegation is deprived of its right to vote it means that the entire country is deprived of this right, it is an unacceptable approach, moreover it casts doubt on the democratic basis of this institution," Volodin added.
He pointed out that for the Russian legislators, the talks with Jagland were very important, "given that any parliament is a place where people should listen to each other." "This is why we want to be heard," he said. "In this connection, we very much appreciate your consistent position on the development of an equal, full-scale political dialogue with Russia," Volodin noted.
"The Russian parliamentary delegation’s participation in the PACE activities is a matter of great importance for us," the lower house chairman went on to say. "We appreciate your position as you consider PACE as a mechanism for dialogue."
Volodin said he knew that Jagland paid much attention to the protection of human rights, adding that "in this case the rights of parliament members need to be protected." "The PACE members’ rights are determined by the mandates they receive from their voters through elections," he noted. "It is clear that PACE itself is to blame for the deadlock it is stuck in, since it took a discriminatory decision (to deprive the Russian delegation of the right to vote) that damaged the reputation of the Council of Europe, in the first place," the State Duma speaker said.
Russia’s delegation at PACE was deprived of its key rights in April 2014 over the events 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 still remained in force. Russia was 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 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.