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MOSCOW, January 29. /TASS/. Lawmakers from Russia's parliamentary upper house on Thursday urged to make "fundamental decisions" about the country’s participation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) following the group’s decision to extend its sanctions against Russia’s delegation for another year.
"These are tactics of anti-Russian forces in PACE," Igor Morozov, a Russian delegate to PACE and a member of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said after PACE had decided to strip the Russian delegation of its right to vote and participate in the assembly’s leading bodies until April 2015.
"From one session to another, they will keep the Russian delegation on its toes, depriving us of the right to vote and the possibility to work properly in PACE," the senator said, noting that every time the Russian side would make concessions, the group would mount challenges.
Morozov described such actions as "American tactics" which were very familiar to Russian parliamentarians. "I think we should make fundamental decisions about participation in this parliamentary organization," he said, adding that those decisions would be discussed on Monday, February 2, at a session of the Federation Council’s relevant committee.
"I hope we will be ready to submit proposals to the chamber’s leadership by that time," he said.
The lawmaker also emphasized he saw no prospects for now of "bringing back PACE’s overarching aim of establishing dialogue between delegations of the Council of Europe countries".
The assembly "has turned into a marginal organization, radicalized under the principle of adherence to American policy in Europe, where everyone is trying to raise anti-Russian rhetoric to demonstrate its commitment to the United States," Morozov said, noting that such actions had become "standard public policy in PACE."
This was "a very lamentable decision" for PACE itself, said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, adding that the assembly "once again keeps itself aloof from promoting settlement to the conflict in Ukraine and protecting the rights of people living there" and "has shown itself as a community whose position is determined by a faceless majority and not politicians who really know the score."
Vladimir Dzhabarov, first deputy chairman of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, suggested that Russian should make no contribution for PACE membership this year. "If we are barred (from voting), what should we pay for?" he asked in an interview with TASS, noting that "it would be immoral."
The parliamentarian said he believed the recent escalation of violence in Ukraine was not a coincidence and it had paved the way for PACE’s negative decision. "It is no coincidence that the Eurozone’s foreign ministers, who have already agreed that sanctions against Russia will be extended for another six months at least, are gathering in the coming days," he said, adding that Russia wanted dialogue instead of confrontation.
"This is an unconstructive way, but it’s not our choice," Dzhabarov said. "We were ready to work in PACE, to listen to criticism and to express our position on certain remarks, but we have been deprived of voting rights and they don't want to listen to us," he added.
Andrey Klishas, head of the Constitutional Legislation Committee in the upper parliament house, urged to stop all cooperation with PACE, which he described as "an organization of European bureaucrats that is rapidly losing its authority."
Konstantin Dobrynin, deputy head of the Federation Council’s Constitutional Legislation Committee, said he had no doubt that even after Russia suspended its participation in PACE and decided to quit the Council of Europe, there was still a chance for dialogue between Russia and Europe.
"It is certainly possible to find a new format of dialogue, and I have no doubt that leaders of the European Union’s key countries and Russian President Vladimir Putin will find such a format sooner or later," the senator said.
"It is important to understand that achieving a comprehensive peace in Ukraine is possible only through direct and constructive dialogue between Russia and Europe, and there is no other way," Dobrynin told TASS.
PACE on Wednesday decided to extend its sanctions against the Russian delegation and strip it of the right to vote and be represented in the assembly’s leading bodies (the Bureau, the Presidential and Standing committees) until April 2015. A relevant amendment to the resolution on the Russian delegation’s powers was adopted by 148 votes for, with 64 against.
Russian delegation head and chairman of the State Duma's lower house Foreign Affairs Committee, Alexey Pushkov, said after PACE’s decision that Moscow was suspending its participation in the group until the end of the year.
Pushkov also noted that PACE’s decision to extend sanctions against the Russian delegation puts on agenda the issue of the Russian Federation’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe.
"I would like to stress that until today Russia has never admitted a possibility of quitting the Council of Europe, but PACE’s decision puts such a possibility on the agenda," he said, adding that "the issue of Russia’s participation in the Council of Europe will be considered at the end of 2015 depending on the political situation."
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.