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ST PETERSBURG, June 2. /TASS/. Russia will cut its contribution to the Council of Europe by a third donated to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Russian Federation Council (upper house of parliament) Speaker Valentina Matviyenko told TASS on sidelines of the 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Friday.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry is handling relevant legal issues, she added.
"Yes, of course. It should be reduced. The Foreign Ministry is drawing up legal issues," Matviyenko said, commenting on pressing appeals to cut Russia’s contribution in light of the country’s non-participation in PACE work.
"Approximately, one third (of the contribution) goes to PACE. However, provocations against Russia are staged on Russian money. Anti-Russian sentiment grows up. They travel to different places on Russian money. Why on earth?" she asked rhetorically.
"We have so many other international parliamentary platforms, so many bilateral contacts that unless the situation turns the tide, it will become uninteresting to work in that marginal organization," the politician added.
Besides, she commented on recent move against Council of Europe parliamentary assembly leader Pedro Agramunt, who had been stripped of powers after his trip to Syria with Russian lawmakers.
"We are not dramatizing the situation. In my opinion, Agramunt is all right. He has stood tall and will continue his work," Matviyenko noted.
"That is not the point. The point is in that organization’s rules and that its anti-Russian minority is raising pressure or trying to raise pressure on the leadership, which is merely ridiculous," she said.
Apart from that, Matviyenko said that Russia have no illusions about the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and has lost all interest in it since after having transformed into a marginal organization, PACE ignores topical agenda.
"To tell the truth, PACE is transforming into a marginal organization that has no influence on anything and that fails to give any reaction or response to the most burning issues of the day," she said. "Its activities have set off a wave of disappointment."
Russia and PACE
Russia is one of five major contributors to the Council of Europe. The 40-million-euro voluntary contribution to the Council of Europe 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. 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.
In January 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.