STRASBOURG, January 28. /TASS/. PACE decided to extend its sanctions against the Russian delegation and strip it of the right to vote and be represented in the Assembly’s governing bodies (the Bureau, the Presidential and Standing committees) until April 2015.
A relevant amendment to the resolution on the powers of the Russian delegation was adopted today by 148 votes for, with 64 against.
Russian delegation head Alexei Pushkov said after PACE’s decision that Moscow is suspending its participation in PACE until the end of the year.
Pushkov, who is the chairman of the State Duma Committee on international affairs, also said 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.
He added 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."
During the April 2014 session, PACE deprived the Russian Federation’s delegation until January 2015 of the right to vote and excluded it from all governing bodies of PACE for incorporation of Crimea. Russian deputies and senators then left the session ahead of schedule in protest and refused to further participate in PACE’s work.
The delegation missed the summer and fall sessions. In January 2015, the powers of all delegations in PACE should be formally reaffirmed.
The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77 percent of Crimeans and 95.6 percent of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18, 2014.
Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.
Crimea had joined the Russian Empire in 1783, when it was conquered by Russian Empress Catherine the Great.
In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the USSR’s Communist Party, transferred it to Ukraine's jurisdiction as a gift.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea became part of newly independent Ukraine and remained in that capacity until March 2014, when it reunified with Russia after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.
According to the Crimean and Ukrainian statistics bodies, as of early 2014, Crimea had a population of 1,959,000 people; Sevastopol has a population of 384,000 people.
Work to integrate the Crimean Peninsula into Russia’s economic, financial, credit, legal, state power, military conscription and infrastructure systems is actively underway now that Crimea has acceded to the Russian Federation.