PARIS, January 18. /TASS/. President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Liliane Maury Pasquier said in a statement obtained by TASS that she regretted Russia’s decision not to send a delegation to the 2019 Winter Session.
"I have taken note of statements, made by the State Duma and the Federation Council [lower and upper chambers of the Russian parliament]. I regret the fact that the Russian parliament sees no reason to appoint a delegation for our planned session in 2019, because, being a member of the Council of Europe, Russia is obliged to take part in the work of its statutory bodies," she said.
The president added that she would inform members of PACE Bureau "of the Russian parliament’s statements and stance."
During its Thursday’s session, the State Duma unanimously adopted a draft statement which suggests not sending the Russian delegation to the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in January 2019 and leaving in force the decision to freeze Russia’s membership fees to the Council of Europe’s budget.
The State Duma also blamed the PACE for rude violation of Russia’s rights as a member of the Council of Europe (CoE) when making decisions in 2015 to deprive the Russian parliamentary delegation of its key powers in the assembly.
Russia and PACE
The Russian delegation in the PACE was deprived of the voting right in April 2014 due to events in Ukraine and Crimea’s reintegration with Russia. In 2015, the PACE twice studied the issue of restoring the Russian delegation’s powers, but sanctions were only tightened then. In response, the Russian delegation refused to work under such conditions, and in 2016-2018 it did not send an application to confirm its powers. Russia also suggested introducing the provisions to the PACE Rules of Procedure that no one has the right to strip parliamentary members of their rights save their voters.
On October 10, 2018, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland stated that Russia’s rights to be represented in the CoE statutory bodies (the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly) may be suspended starting from June 2019 for systematic non-payment of membership fees. In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia will leave the CoE itself if its opponents in this organization insist on Moscow’s expulsion.
On December 10, the PACE Rules Committee opposed the deprivation of national delegations of their right to take part in elections of the organization’s secretary general and judges for the European Court of Human Rights. However, Russian Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov stated that Russia is not satisfied with the partial restoration of its delegations’ rights in the PACE and expects "the full and unconditional restoration of all rights" of the delegation and "the development of such rules of procedure that would prevent any such actions on the part of the assembly’s majority in the future.".