ST. PETERSBURG, October 14. /TASS/. Speaker of the Russian parliament’s upper house (Federation Council) Valentina Matviyenko is ready to meet PACE’s new president, Stella Kyriakides, but has not received a letter from her yet.
"We have not received a letter of the kind. If I receive the letter, I will meet with pleasure with Ms. President [of PACE]," she told reporters on Saturday. "We welcome any steps towards each other. Any dialogue."
According to her, Russia would not drop its position about necessary changes to the Council of Europe’s regulations so that to revoke the right to limit authorities of national delegations from any institutions, including PACE. "We are ready to discuss possible movements in this direction, we are ready to work with national delegations from other countries - everything for better understanding of the situation. If the Council of Europe does not undertake certain steps, I am afraid this crisis would deepen not only at PACE, but would spread also to other institutes," the speaker said.
On Saturday, on the sidelines of the assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) was information that PACE’s newly elected president, Stella Kyriakides had sent letters to speakers of the Russian parliament’s both houses, Valentina Matviyenko and Vyacheslav Volodin, expressing readiness for a soon meeting to discuss relations between Russia and PACE.
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.