MOSCOW, October 14. /TASS/. Cooperation between Russia and the Council of Europe (CE) used to be interesting for both sides, but stripping Russia of the voting right signals necessary changes in CE, speaker of the parliament’s upper house, Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko said in an interview with the Vesti V Subbotu weekly television program.
"Now, [I am] convinced absolutely that Russia’s joining the Council of Europe was absolutely correct and at that time it was a mutually interesting, intellectual joint work," she said on Saturday. However, responding to the anchorman saying later on Russia was deprived of the voting there, she stressed that "is a signal to the Council of Europe about necessary changes."
Russia should keep its membership in the Council of Europe, she continued, but the country "must be heard."
She ruled out a financial factor in restoration of Russia’s authorities in PACE. "This is not a key argument, though, of course, without participating in the Council of Europe’s bodies, we do not have to make a regular payment - this is our position," she said.
Russia and PACE
In late June, Russia suspended paying its contribution to the Council of Europe since its delegation does not take part in PACE activity. Simultaneously, Moscow suggested that the assembly’s procedure should include provisions banning any authority, but for the voters, to strip national delegations of their powers.
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 until the end of 2015. In January 2016, Russia refrained from applying for confirmation of its rights for 2016.
In January 2017, Leonid Slutsky, the head of the Russian State Duma (lower house) foreign affairs committee, said Russia would continue close cooperation with PACE but would not take part in its plenary sessions and committees in 2017.