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MOSCOW, January 27. /TASS/. Russia will leave the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for another year if the group renews its April sanctions against Russia's delegation, Alexey Pushkov, delegation head and chairman of the State Duma's lower house foreign affairs committee, said on Tuesday.
"If the sanctions against the Russian delegation, imposed last April, are renewed, - if Russia is stripped of its right to vote and participate in the assembly’s leading bodies, - we will leave PACE and suspend our membership until the end of 2015," Pushkov said.
The PACE monitoring committee on Tuesday supported the restoration of the Russian delegation’s voting rights at the assembly. A draft resolution, based on a report by Stefan Schennach, a Social Democrat member of Austria's upper house of parliament and head of the committee, recommended ratifying the Russian delegation’s powers, except for its right to participate in election observation missions or appoint rapporteurs from Russia.
The issue of the Russian delegation’s powers will be discussed at a plenary session on Wednesday, January 28.
"Our main task was to prevent radical measures. And representatives of our delegation addressed the monitoring committee meeting and made their proposals," Pushkov said, adding that Russian delegates also planned to propose amendments at the forthcoming session.
The parliamentarian did not rule out that the Russian delegation’s opponents would again present proposals to strip it of voting rights. But although it was impossible to predict the outcome of Wednesday’s vote, "we can say that the situation looks better than yesterday for Russia", he said.
Russia’s dialogue with PACE was suspended in April last year when the assembly stripped it of voting rights until January 2015 following Crimea’s reunification with Russia, suspending its right to be represented in the assembly’s leading bodies and to participate in election observation missions.
Russian parliamentary delegates than left the session before its official completion as a gesture of protest and refused to take part in future PACE activities, ignoring the assembly's summer and autumn sessions. At the current session, opened on January 26, the powers of all delegations are to be formally re-affirmed.
The rights of the Russian delegation were called in question at the initiative of British MP Robert Walter, who argued that the sanctions imposed in April should be continued. He was supported by a group of more than 30 PACE members, who rose from their seats. Under the rules a motion to dispute the powers of a delegation to PACE requires support from at least 30 delegates representing at least five countries and two political groups at the assembly.
After that the Russian delegation’s powers were handed over to the PACE monitoring committee for drafting a report. Earlier, the PACE Bureau suggested discussing the issue at its session on January 28. The committee chief, Schennach, is the rapporteur on the Russian delegation’s powers.