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MOSCOW, July 17. /TASS/. Speaker of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) Vyacheslav Volodin has castigated a decision to strip the Russian delegation of its right to vote in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) as reactionary, stressing that this approach could effectively put an end to parliamentarianism.
"Actually, the decision to strip somebody of the right to speak and the absence of dialogue within any and, particularly, inter-parliamentarian organization, contravenes the very foundation and meaning of parliamentarianism, because a parliament is a venue where debates take place and where points of view are expressed and, if you like, optimal decisions are developed through the parties’ competitiveness and justification of one’s point of view," Volodin said at a meeting with President of the Armenian National Assembly (parliament) Ara Babloyan.
"When one of the parties is stripped of its voting rights, then listen, this is so reactionary, it effectively puts an end to the very essence of parliamentarianism," the speaker stressed. He highlighted the fact that this is done by one of the oldest European parliamentary organizations. "And why does it do that? Perhaps, they are afraid that their colleagues can have their say and convince others," Volodin noted.
"There are no other arguments. Attempting to silence someone and strip of the right to speak in such a way is an infringement upon the fundamental rights of both citizens and the rights of the countries that delegated their lawmakers as people’s representatives," he went on to say. "The entire nation, millions of people are thus stripped of the right to express their stance."
Volodin defended his standpoint that this kind of practice is unacceptable. "As long as such regulations in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe exist, we will not take part in PACE’s work," he warned.
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. In January 2016, Russia refused to bid for confirming its powers for 2016.
In January 2017, Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, said Russia would continue to closely cooperate with PACE but would not take part in its plenary sessions and committees this year.
In early June, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin told reporters that Russia had cut its payment to the Council of Europe that could be used to finance the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) by one third or about 11 million euros.