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Duma speaker compares PACE’s move to strip Russia of voting right to Inquisition

According to the Russian parliamentarian, such restrictions do not correspond to democratic principles

MOSCOW, January 12. /TASS/. The decision made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in 2014 to strip Russia of the voting right can be compared to medieval Inquisition methods, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said on Thursday.

"The most important possibility is the possibility to speak in parliament. But when someone is deprived of the right to vote, the only thing left is to impose the Inquisition," the Russian speaker said at a meeting with PACE President Pedro Agramunt.

According to the Russian parliamentarian, such restrictions do not correspond to democratic principles.

"A key issue is the issue of discussing the PACE regulations, pursuant to which the Russian delegation was deprived of the right to vote. Of course, we consider this to be inadmissible in parliament, considering that various viewpoints should be voiced in parliament," Volodin said.

'To revise undemocratic decisions'

Volodin has advised PACE to overturn its undemocratic decisions adopted previously.

"Of course, in the process of our contacts, as we communicate with the PACE member-states, we see that they do not understand the decisions that are being implemented," Volodin said.

"We have a certain hope that if you undertake to oversee these issues, you will discuss them with political delegations somehow and, possibly, it will be possible to overturn the decisions that were made previously as the PACE rules of procedure were adopted," he said. "True, it is hard for anyone to overturn previously made decisions, but if certain decisions in question do disagree with both democracy and the spirit of parliamentarianism, it would be correct to revise them, of course," Volodin said.

To change regulation

Volodin called on the PACE president to change the Assembly’s regulation in order to protect national delegations of a possible deprivation of their voting rights.

Volodin recalled that Agramunt earlier said it would be right if all 47 delegations participated in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. This gives ground for hope that PACE "will change its regulation and rights of national delegations will be protected," Volodin said. "This will be in line with the democratic standards and the spirit of parliamentarism," Volodin added.

To adopt clever approach to balance interests of PACE members

PACE should adopt a clever approach in order to balance the interests of all member states, Volodin said. Thus he commented on Agramunt’s statement in which he said that the State Duma had adopted a clever approach as the ruling United Russia party has a constitutional majority while 50% of senior posts are occupied by opposition members.

"Such method allows to maintain balance in the parliament, ensure that various views are expressed as well as make decisions. Maybe, PACE should adopt the same approach because it could help make balanced decisions," Volodin said. "If you consider such approach to be clever then maybe PACE should adopt it, too," he added.

Russia and PACE

In April 2014, the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of key rights, including the right to vote and take part in the assembly’s governing bodies, following the developments in Ukraine and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. The issue of restoring the rights of the Russian delegation was raised at PACE twice throughout 2015 but the sanctions are still in place: Russia is deprived of the right to vote and cannot take part in the Assembly’s governing bodies and elections monitoring missions. In response, Russia suspended its participation in the PACE activities till the end of 2015.

In January 2016, Russia refrained from applying for confirmation of its rights for 2016.