MOSCOW, November 27. /TASS/. It will be difficult for the Russian delegation to Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to fully resume its activities until the provision concerning the possibility of depriving delegations of their rights are excluded from the PACE regulations, Chairman of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Committee for Foreign Affairs Leonid Slutsky said.
"There is very little chance that amendments will be introduced into the PACE regulations stipulating that a national delegation may be deprived of the right to vote, as well as other rights, we should be realistic about that," he told reporters commending on a Financial Times article saying that the Council of Europe was considering the possibility of lifting sanctions on Russia.
According to Slutsky, Russia is not "under sanctions imposed by the Council of Europe." "The restrictions in question concern PACE’s decision to limit the rights of our delegation, depriving it of the right to vote, participate in the activities of the PACE governing bodies and its electoral monitoring missions until the end of 2015. In 2016, we refrained from applying for confirmation of our rights due to the spread of anti-Russian sentiment. It was our own decision," the senior Russian lawmaker pointed out.
At the same time, Slutsky noted that "to avoid the risk of being left without Russia’s payment (since Turkey has withdrawn from being one of the six major donors of PACE), Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland would very much like to influence PACE as far as cooperation with Russia is concerned." "It is a well-known fact that PACE cannot be influenced that easy. The balance of power in the assembly still has not changed," he said.
Slutsky stated that Russia would continue to maintain contacts with all the political groups in PACE. "We can say that the situation is slowly but surely improving. But the process has not completed yet," he said.
At the same time, he said that he had always spoken out in favor of Russia’s cooperation with the Council of Europe. "I believe that we should not lose ties with this comprehensive European organization," Slutsky concluded.
On Sunday, the Financial Times reported that "the Council of Europe, the leading pro-democracy body in the region, is considering lifting sanctions it imposed over Russia’s aggression in Ukraine for fear Moscow could otherwise pull out - dealing a blow to human rights protection." "It would really be very, very bad if Russia was to leave·… because the convention and court has been so important for Russian citizens," Thorbjorn Jagland said, as cited by the Financial Times. "It will be a negative development for Europe, because we will have a Europe without Russia. It would be a big step back for Europe," he added. At the same time, the article says that "Mr Jagland denied rumors that Moscow officials had threatened a pullout in private meetings with him. But he warned that refusing to pay into the budget or implement court judgments could lead to Russia’s departure on its own or other states’ initiative."