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MOSCOW, June 22. /TASS/. The Russian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will seek cancellation of EU’s individual sanctions against Russian parliamentarians, State Duma’s Committee of International Affairs Chairman Alexey Pushkov said on Monday.
Lifting those "deliberately unlawful restrictions" could serve as ab impetus to reconsidering other current sanctions, he said.
Council at the foreign ministers’ level has extended the economic sanctions against Russia for six months until January 31, 2016, a spokeswoman for the council’s external affairs service said earlier on Monday. Susanne Kiefer said the decision on extending the restrictive measures has been taken and comes in an effort to implement in full the February 12 Minsk agreements on Ukraine.
"We think that they need to start reviewing their [individual sanctions], start with parliamentarians, because restricting the activity of parliamentarians, their movements, possibility to express and convey the opinion of their own and of Russian citizens, of Russian electorate to Western public opinion about politics - it contradicts all principles of parliamentarism, all principles of European democracy," Pushkov told TASS. "It could be a start for a gradual rejection of restrictive lists, and it could become a start for gradual transition to reconsidering sanctions," he noted.
"Of course, there are countries and politicians who want Russia and Europe to constantly be in the situation of a sanctions deadlock," Pushkov stressed. "However, according to my assessment - and it was confirmed by St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, by statements by many European countries, which are critical about the sanctions policy - it is necessary to look for a way out of this situation not by extending, or even toughening sanctions, but by easing them and gradually lifting," the Russian politician said. Both sides should contribute to this, he added. "Unfortunately, EU’s decision postpones this positive progress indefinitely," Pushkov said.
PACE strips Russia of voting rights
Last year, the parliamentary arm of the 47-nation Council of Europe, promoting democracy and human rights across the continent, stripped Russia of voting rights following events in Ukraine.
It suspended both Russia's right to sit on its governing bodies and Russian participation in election observer missions.
Russian parliamentary delegates left the April session before its official completion as a gesture of protest and refused to take part in future PACE activities, staying away from the assembly's summer and autumn sessions.
At the January session, PACE extended its sanctions against Russia’s delegation until April. In response, Moscow severed contact with the group for another year.