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MOSCOW, January 13. /TASS/. Russia is looking at possible reduction of its contribution to the Council of Europe, a senior Russian lawmaker told TASS on Friday.
"Now we are discussing this issue [of reduction Russia’s contribution - TASS]. I can confirm that," Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the international committee of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house, said.
"Once we find a proper legal formula, we can take some steps along this path. But so far, we have not found any," he added.
He said that the situation around Russia’s participation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) gives rise to doubts about expediency of paying the country’s contribution in full. "The problem is as follows: the contribution to the Council of Europe is paid in a lump sum and it is impossible to single out a sum that is to go to PACE. If it were possible we would have frozen our contribution to PACE long ago until Russia is back with all the rights," Kosachev stressed.
He said that complete suspension of the contribution payment is out of the question. "The task is to correct this illogical situation when the format of relations between the Russian parliament and PACE has changed whereas Russia’s contribution remains the same," he said.
Russia is one the five major contributors to the Council of Europe. The contribution is paid in a lump sum. The money goes to PACE, the Committee of Ministers, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, and to the European Court of Human Rights. The contribution is about 40 million euro. Russia has paid its entire 2017 contribution to the Council of Europe, including the sum due to go to PACE.
In April 2014, the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of key rights, including the right to vote and take part in the assembly’s governing bodies, following the developments in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. The issue of restoring the rights of the Russian delegation was raised at PACE twice throughout 2015 but the sanctions are still in place: Russia is deprived of the right to vote and cannot take part in the Assembly’s governing bodies and elections monitoring missions. In response, Russia suspended its participation in the PACE activities till the end of 2015. In January 2016, Russia refrained from applying for confirmation of its rights for 2016.
On January 12, 2017, Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the international committee of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house, said Russia would continue close cooperation with PACE but would not take part in its plenary sessions and committees in 2017.