MOSCOW, January 25. /TASS/. Russian delegation is heading for Strasbourg to participate in the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), due on January 26, under extremely complex conditions, head of the Russian parliament’s lower chamber international affairs committee Alexei Pushkov twitted on Sunday.
“We are leaving for PACE session under extremely complex conditions: last week war was resumed by Kiev, but West threatens with new measures to us. Will be tough,” he wrote.
Ukraine’s presidential aide Yuri Birukov wrote on his Facebook page on January 18: “Two hours ago the entire group of our military in sector B received an order and opened saturation fire on known positions of the separatists.”
The main intrigue at the PACE winter session would be confirming authorities of the Russian delegation. Voting, Moscow said earlier, will demonstrate whose positions in PACE are stronger - of realists or of supporters of the ‘cold war.’
At its April 2014 session PACE stripped the Russian delegation of the right to vote until January 2015 and excluded it from all Assembly’s management bodies for Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Russian lawmakers then walked out of the session in protest and refused from further participation in the PACE work. Since then the Russian delegation has not attended the Assembly’s summer and autumn sessions in Strasbourg.
In mid-November 2014 Naryshkin told the media that the Russian delegation was ready to return to the full-format participation in PACE’s work in 2015, adding that in his opinion PACE has huge potential to help in overcoming the current crisis of political trust in Europe. He also urged his foreign colleagues to renew the Assembly’s agenda, removing all unimportant questions, and adding those that are of primary importance.
The conflict between Russia and PACE reached its peak in April last year as the European body approved an anti-Russian resolution over the political crisis in Ukraine, depriving Moscow’s delegation of the right to vote, and banning it from participation in ruling bodies and monitoring missions till the end of the year.
In January 2015, the powers of all delegations at PACE are to be formally reapproved. On December 18, 2014 the Duma Council made a decision to include in Russia’s PACE delegation Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin and his deputy Sergei Zhelezhnyak. This means that in accordance with the procedural rules, Naryshkin as the delegation’s permanent member can attend the PACE January session that will raise the issue of the return of Assembly powers to Russia.
Naryshkin said on Monday that he was considering “an optimistic scenario of PACE action (towards Russia’s delegation).” “But if other opinion prevails, as for myself, I doubt the expediency of continuation of our work at PACE - at least during 2015,” he said.
On Friday, January 23, Aleksei Pushkov said Russia will refuse to co-operate with PACE for another year if the group extends its sanctions against Russia's delegation.
“We will refrain from any forms of interaction with PACE until the end of 2015,” Pushkov told journalists.
The parliamentarian denied allegations that the Russian delegation was heading to a PACE session, scheduled for next week, “to make peace” with the group.
“We are not going to make peace with those trying to force Russia out of the Council of Europe,” he said. “We are going there since we are full-fledged members of the assembly and we have no reason not to attend the session.”
The delegation also wanted to join the group’s session “to reiterate its position”, Pushkov said, noting that most PACE members last year tilted in favour of geopolitics supporting Ukrainian authorities in Kiev. “We want to fight this policy. And we have allies,” he said.
On January 20, Pushkov said the Ukrainian delegation at PACE will insist on keeping West’s sanctions on Russia. “Judging by the Ukrainian representative’s statements at the monitoring commission meeting in Paris, the Ukrainian delegation at PACE will press for keeping sanctions on Russia,” he twitted.