STRASBOURG, January 23. /TASS/. Resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Russia’s Crimea will never be implemented, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Tuesday.
"The matter is that most of PACE resolutions, at least in what concerns Russia’s Crimea, will never be implemented. It is obvious," Pyotr Tolstoy, a deputy speaker of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house, told journalists.
He stressed that Crimea’s reunification with Russia is already a fact of history. "It is like lamenting unification of Germany. It is a fact of history. It has already happened and should be seen as such," he said.
According to the Russian lawmaker, some of the PACE members seem to be unprepared to share Russia’s point of view. "As long as there are such people, I cannot say for sure that the majority in the assembly understands it. We are not going to put our colleagues in the assembly in the face of any choice. I have no doubts that Russia will ultimately return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, but only after this organization amends its regulations," Tolstoy added.
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 till the end of 2015. In 2016-2017, Russia skipped PACE meetings due to the ongoing sanctions.
In late June 2017, Russia said it was suspending payment of its contribution to the Council of Europe over its non-participation in PACE. Concurrently, it suggested PACE’s regulations be amended to ensure that no one could deprive the lawmakers of their rights but for their voters.
On January 11, chairman of the State Duma international committee, Leonid Slutsky, confirmed that Russia would not apply for confirmation of its rights for 2018 and would not take part in PACE’s January session.
Nevertheless, Tolstoy and chairman of the international committee of Russia’s Federation Council upper parliament house Konstantin Kosachev have opted to pay a working visit to Strasbourg to attend a meeting of a special commission on harmonizing the Council of Europe’s statutory bodies. The commission was set up after PACE Presidential Commission’s consultation with Russian lawmakers in late 2017. Back then, European lawmakers demonstrated interest in resuming dialogue with Russia.
The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18, 2014.
Despite the absolutely convincing results of the referendum, Ukraine hase been refusing to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.