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STRASBOURG, April 10, /ITAR-TASS/. Russia will not rush the decision on secession from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian delegation to the organisation and State Duma (lower house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, said on Thursday, April 10.
“I think we will not rush things. Our delegation will discuss calmly whether it would be reasonable or unreasonable for us to remain in the PACE. We will make a statement in the next two or three weeks and will notify the PACE leadership thereof,” Pushkov said.
The PACE passed a resolution that will keep the Russian delegation silent and excluded it from all PACE governing bodies until the end of the year for the reunification with Crimea. The resolution was passed by a 145-21 vote with 22 abstentions. In reply, the Russian delegation walked out of the session room.
Pushkov stressed that the most extremist attitudes had not prevailed in the PACE. “The proposal to evict Russia from PACE did not prevail in the final run, as only 55 delegates voted for it and this proves the majority of them have retained common sense,” Pushkov said.
However the decision to limit all rights of the Russian delegation, including its participation in the Bureau, the right to vote and participate in monitoring missions is “the crudest possible encroachment on our delegation’s rights”, he said. “We believe this fact alone furnishes us with enough grounds for considering the prospects for further participation in PACE activities,” he said.
“Right now we’re leaving this session in protest,” he said, adding that “we will not participate in the further work of this session and will reserve the right consider the question of further participation of Russia in the PACE”.
Chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs and Ties with Compatriots Leonid Slutsky, who is the deputy head of the Russian delegation to the PACE, believes that the PACE decisions to restrict the Russian parliamentarians’ powers “look more like those of the Parliamentary Assembly of NATO but not of the Assembly which is called upon on bring together the East the West and build Europe free of dividing lines”.
“This is an unspeakable show of double standards, a pathologically biased approach. The redline, up to which we considered it possible to continue working in the PACE, was crossed by passing an amendment that deprived us of the right to participate in the Assembly’s governing bodies and monitoring missions,” he said.
“We want to be here but we cannot agree with the infringement of the rights and authority of great Russia,” Slutsky stressed.
Pushkov said Russia “is ready to be in the PACE if our colleagues are prepared to conduct a dialogue” but “if our colleagues are prepared only to yell, make noise and condemn, we will not hold on to the PACE and we made this clear”.
The PACE passed a resolution on Ukraine which laid all the blame for the crisis in that country on Russia.
The document, adopted based on PACE rapporteurs’ report, says that Russia’s actions with regard to Crimea are a clear violation of international law and claims that the far-right forces did not seize central power in Kiev and there was no direct threat to the rights of the ethnic Russian-speaking minority, including in Crimea.
It called the Crimean referendum on reunification with Russia unconstitutional and its results invalid and unrecognised by the Council of Europe.
The Assembly reaffirmed its support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
It also spoke against federalisation of Ukraine, recognised the self-proclaimed authorities in Kiev legitimate and demanded that the use of force by the deposed government against protesters be condemned and those responsible for violations of human rights be penalised. The Assembly also called for holding early parliamentary elections in Ukraine.
The Russian delegation voiced strong protest against the resolution. Pushkov said “the new authorities in Kiev cannot be considered legitimate because they have not been legitimised”.
“The rapporteurs claim that no one in Ukraine is trying to create a federation. That’s not true. They also say that the February 21 agreement [signed by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition] is implemented. It is not. The rapporteurs are showing solidarity with racist parties,” Pushkov said.
“This is an appalling document, which calls white black and black white. It boils down to defaming Russia and its actions in Crimea, while supporting utterly unacceptable fantasies,” Slutsky said.