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Russian lawmaker suggests moving UN Headquarters from US to Switzerland — media

August 31, 2015, 11:13 UTC+3

"The UN should strengthen its role as the ultimate arbitrator on the international arena rather than become a tool of influence in the hands of the United States," a Russian daily quoted the lawmaker

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© AP Photo/Osamu Honda

MOSCOW, August 31. /TASS/. A member of the defense committee of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, Igor Zotov has sent United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov a request suggesting moving the UN Headquarters from the United States to a neutral country - Switzerland, a Russian daily reported Monday.

"In today’s conditions, the UN should strengthen its role as the ultimate arbitrator on the international arena rather than become a tool of influence in the hands of the United States," Izvestia quoted Zotov as saying.

"Besides, the visa issuance procedure allows Washington to influence the presence of representatives of undesired or partially recognized states at sessions of the UN General Assembly or working meetings as part of activity of other international institutions of the organization," he said.

Zotov said the headquarters should be moved to the territory of a state whose foreign policy is characterized by neutrality, with Switzerland being a candidate.

"Implementation of this initiative at the first stage is seen through a broad public discussion with participation of representatives of all states members of the UN, public and political figures, experts," he said.

Zotov recalled the recent incident with Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, who was given a US visa with restrictions preventing her from attending all planned events on UN sites in New York.

"The US leadership is not entitled to make a decision to restrict the presence of any officials on UN sites. This should be interpreted as interference in the UN affairs, which contradicts the organization’s Charter," the deputy’s letter says.

Visa restrictions for Russian upper house speaker

Russian Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko, whose visit to the United States has been disrupted due to visa restrictions over Russia's position on Ukraine, said August 27 there is no reason to hold international events in countries that back sanctions.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said August 26 that the visa for Matviyenko contains some "inadmissible" restrictions on the stay in the United States which make the Russian delegation’s planned visit to New York late this month impossible.

Matviyenko was scheduled to attend the 4th world conference of the heads of parliament from the member countries of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, due in New York on August 31 through September 2.

On August 26, the United States issued a visa to Matviyenko but set a number of restrictions which the Federation Council speaker and the Russian Foreign Ministry have dismissed as unacceptable. The issued visa allowed Matviyenko to meet with the UN secretary-general but prohibited her participation in the forthcoming conference.

Russia-West tensions

For incorporation of Crimea after last year’s coup in Ukraine, Russia came under sanctions on the part of the United States and many European countries. The restrictive measures were soon intensified following Western and Ukrainian claims that Russia supported militias in self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine’s southeast and was involved in destabilization of Ukraine.

As countermeasures, Russia imposed on August 6, 2014 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway. In late July 2015, Russia extended its food embargo until August 2016 inclusive.

The Russian authorities have repeatedly denied accusations of "annexing" Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, as well as claims that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in Ukraine’s east.

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