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MOSCOW, September 14. /TASS/. Russian will not return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and will not unfreeze the payment of a third of its contribution to the Council of Europe meant to finance PACE until the latter amends its regulations to rule out any possibility of stripping national delegations of the right to vote, a senior Russian lawmaker said in an interview with Thursday’s issue of the Izvestia newspaper.
"Russia has frozen its contributions to PACE as it refused to take part in its work. Such decision was taken over the organization’s discriminatory policy. We believe that there is no point in our participation unless it changes its regulations. I would like to remind that the Russian delegation has been deprived of the right to vote at PACE," Pyotr Tolstoy, a deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house, said.
"Until it is not changed, Moscow will not return to the Parliamentary Assembly and, hence, will not pay its contributions. The final decision has not yet been taken, it is in the competence of executive authorities. But in any case, Moscow ill not pay contributions and will not return to PACE until its regulations are amended and the Russian lawmakers’ rights are restored completely," he stressed.
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 State Duma international committee, said Russia would continue close cooperation with PACE but would not take part in its plenary sessions and committees in 2017.
In early June, State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin told journalists that Russia has suspended payment of a third part of its contribution to the Council of Europe that could be used to finance the PACE.
Russia is still one of the major contributors to the Council of Europe. Its annual contribution for 2016 amounted to 33 million euro.