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MOSCOW, September 26. /TASS/. Lawmakers from the Ukrainian parliament, the Supreme Rada, who have been against Russia’s St. Petersburg as the venue for the 137th assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), are still welcome to attend the global forum, Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Russian parliament’s upper house, said on Tuesday.
According to the Federation Council’s speaker, lawmakers from Ukraine not only objected holding the IPU assembly in Russia’s second largest city, but also insisted on voting regarding this issue and it was contradictory to the IPU regulations.
"Ukraine was backed by representatives of five countries, namely Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden and Estonia," Matviyenko said in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily on Tuesday. "However, four of them have already confirmed their attendance at the St. Petersburg (IPU) assembly."
"I would like to say that the doors are still open for Ukrainian parliamentarians as well," the top Russian senator said.
According to Matviyenko, Russia has provided ample guarantees at the state level that none of parliamentarians, who are included in the so-called restriction lists, will experience problems coming to St. Petersburg.
"We believe that such tool as sanctions in regard to parliamentarians is absolutely inadmissible since lawmakers are the ones expressing opinions of millions of their voters," Matviyenko said.
The Russian senator added she hoped that "eventually the Ukrainian parliament will not only participate in the St. Petersburg assembly, but will also reveal its readiness for a sensible dialogue and constructive steps."
Matviyenko also said that as of today some 90 heads of parliaments worldwide had already confirmed their participation in the parliamentary forum, due to be held next month in Russia.
"This is almost twice as much as it was in Geneva in 2016, when the IPU assembly saw a record attendance of parliamentarians," she said. "In all, we are expecting about 1,500 participants from over 150 countries."
The 137th assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union will take place in St. Petersburg between October 14 and 18. This decision was taken at the 135th assembly in Geneva despite opposition from Ukraine and several other national delegations.
St. Petersburg earned 138 out of 159 votes during the balloting. The Inter-Parliamentary Union is the oldest (established in 1889) and one of the most authoritative international parliamentary organizations in the world in addition to being an informal parliamentary dimension of the UN. This Union has members from 170 countries and 11 inter-parliamentary unions are listed as associated members.