MOSCOW, September 6. /TASS/. Presidential Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) led by PACE President Pedro Agramunt arrives in Moscow in full force on a two-day visit on Tuesday.
The delegation includes the leaders of all the five political groups represented at the assembly. The itinerary of their visit features meetings with the speaker of Russia's State Duma, Sergei Naryshkina, and members of the Russian delegation to the assembly.
Officials at PACE's Secretariat told TASS members of the presidential committee plan discussing relations between Russia and the assembly and the stepping up of dialogue.
"This is the first visit by PACE representatives to Russia on this scale after the beginning of the crisis between Moscow and Strasbourg that broke out in April 2014 after Crimea's reunification with Russia," Leonid Slutsky, a deputy chief of the Russian delegation to PACE told reporters on Monday.
Moscow expects, in the first place, PACE's proposals on how to get out of the deadlock where the assembly had found itself.
"I don't rule out they may send up a trial balloon regarding a procedural issue of some kind through a revision of approaches to the powers of national delegations and to challenging them in order to begin the year 2017 from scratch and to facilitate a return of the Russian delegation to the assembly this way," he said.
"Yet it's not the procedures but principles that matter here," Slutsky said.
"The Russian delegation maintains a coherent position, which suggests we'll return to Strasbourg only if all the sanctions are lifted and we get back the full scope of powers," he said, adding along with it the Strasbourg floor remained important for Russia.
"However the format of our participation in PACE will be determined after election to the State Duma on September 18 and endorsement of a new membership list of the delegation," Slutsky said.
Pedro Agramunt, the PACE speaker, visited Russia several times this year. He took part in a session of the CIS parliamentary assembly in May and attended a session of the General Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization's parliamentary assembly at the end of June.
He also said then Russia was an important member of the Council of Europe.
The Russian delegation to PACE was deprived of the main powers, including the right to vote and the right to delegate observers to monitoring missions, in April 2014 pending the turmoil in Ukraine and Crimea's reunification with Russia.
PACE considered a return of powers to the Russian delegation in 2015 twice but the sanctions still stay in effect.