MOSCOW, February 6. /TASS/. It is important to make sure that all countries work in PACE on an equal footing, without being persecuted for dissenting views, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday following talks with top Danish diplomat Anders Samuelsen who is also in Moscow as the Chair of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers.
"It seemed to me that we have a common opinion that Denmark can contribute to restoring the normal working environment in PACE," Lavrov said. "We believe it is important for representatives of parliaments of all Council of Europe member-countries without exception to work on equal terms, without being persecuted for dissenting points of view. We hope that common sense will eventually take the upper hand."
In April 2014, the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of its key rights over 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 election 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 ongoing sanctions.
In late June, Russia said it was suspending payments 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 strip lawmakers of their rights but for their voters. On January 11, head of Russia’s State Duma (lower house) International Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky said Russia would not ask for confirmation of its powers in PACE for 2018.