MOSCOW, January 11. /TASS/. Moscow will not file an application for confirming the Russian delegation’s powers at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in 2018, Head of Russia’s State Duma (lower house) International Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky informed TASS.
State Duma Vice Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy earlier told TASS that Russia would not send its delegation to PACE's January session, as the assembly failed to introduce amendments on protecting national delegations’ rights from discrimination to its regulations.
"Just like during the previous two years, we will not apply for confirming the delegation’s powers at PACE for 2018 and will not attend the January session. There is a decision to this effect," Slutsky said.
According to the lawmaker, the key condition for the Russian delegation’s return, namely, introducing amendments to PACE’s regulations abolishing the provision on the possibility of stripping national delegations of the right to vote, has not been fulfilled to date. "As long as these discriminatory provisions and the so-called sanctions clauses are in place, Russia will not resume its work at the assembly, and we have stated that on numerous occasions at various levels," he stressed.
Slutsky confirmed though that it is planned to continue consultations to find a way out of the crisis in relations between Russia and PACE. "In December, it was decided to set up a special commission on harmonizing the statutory bodies, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers and PACE. This decision is based on the idea put forward in a report by Michele Nicoletti, leader of the socialists’ political group, who insists that all 47 Council of Europe members should take part in the work of both organizations without fail. We shall see what our colleagues will offer," he concluded.
In April 2014, Russia’s delegation to PACE was stripped of its key rights, including the right to vote and take part in the assembly’s governing bodies, over the situation 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 remained in place. In response, Russia suspended its participation in PACE. Russia refrained from applying for confirmation of its powers for 2016 and 2017 due to the persisting Russophobic sentiment in Strasbourg.
In late June 2017, Moscow suspended the payment of its 2017 contribution to the Council of Europe due to the Russian delegation’s non-participation in PACE’s work. At the same time, Moscow called for adding a provision to the PACE regulations stipulating that no one has the right to strip any national delegations of their powers.