STRASBOURG, April 07. /ITAR-TASS/. The spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is opening in Strasbourg on Monday. For the Russian delegation it is expected to become one of the most strenuous during the history of Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe (CE): the parliamentarians plan to discuss the issue of sanctions against Moscow for the reunification with Crimea, even challenging the RF deputies’ powers in the Assembly.
Head of the Russian delegation, chairman of the international affairs committee at the State Duma lower house of parliament Alexei Pushkov told reporters that before the official opening of the session on Monday, the PACE Bureau was to make a decision on the “sanction initiatives”. The secretariat has registered two proposals the authors of which are UK lawmaker Robert Walter and MP Michael Aastrup Jensen of Denmark: to revise the Russian delegation’s powers and deprive the Russian parliamentarians of the voting right, respectively.
“If the Walter’s initiative is put to the vote, and this will be finally become clear on Tuesday on the results of a meeting of the monitoring committee, Russia reserves the right to withdraw from the Assembly ahead of the voting by the end of the year and give the PACE the corresponding notification. In this case it would be impossible to vote on the powers, as the delegation voluntarily withdraws its powers,” Pushkov said. He also said that “if softer sanctions are applied — suspension of the right to vote or the right of address at plenary sessions — the Russian delegation would react without withdrawing the powers.”
Russia has always stood for constructive co-operation with the PACE, even when Russia-EU relations had been not very good, Leonid Slutsky, Chairman of the State Duma Committee for CIS affairs, said for his part. “PACE is a convenient venue based on the widest European organization for substantiated promotion of our position and foreign policy line. We have shown this more than once in the discussion of most sensitive issues, including the Chechen dossier and events in South Ossetia,” he said. However, Slutsky added, if European parliamentarians do not understand the need of conducting a bilateral dialogue with Russia and decide to take unprecedented measures to exclude Russia from the Assembly, Moscow would implement the scenario of voluntary withdrawal from this organization. “We will not give them such pleasure — to expel us with whistling and jeering of the Russophobic-minded part of the Assembly,” he stressed. But Russia’s withdrawal from the Assembly, the deputy head of the Russian delegation warned, would deal a serious blow to the PACE authority.
The Russian delegation has arrived at the PACE session in full strength, including Slutsky who has been affected by the “Crimean” sanctions of the European Union. As a member of an international organization he must be admitted to the Assembly work.