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Swiss parliamentarian speaks for reinstatement of Russia’s powers in PACE

Every effort must be made to reinstate Russia’s powers in PACE, an official says

BERN, February 19. /TASS/. Every effort must be made to reinstate Russia’s powers in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter, who chairs the international affairs committee of the Swiss lower house of parliament, said on Monday.

"I believe everything must be done to see them [Russia’s powers in PACE] reinstated," Schneider-Schneiter said, adding that as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly she was always against having Russia stripped of its powers. The Swiss parliamentarian took part in a meeting in Bern with Russian parliamentarians within the framework of a visit to Switzerland by Russian Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.

She reiterated that under the Swiss traditions everyone must have a possibility to have their say. "From the very start, the idea of the Council of Europe was in having all parties at the table, with none of the parties excluded," she said, expressing an opinion that Switzerland "must play its role" in advancing this principle.

At a meeting with Volodin earlier in the day, President of the National Council of Switzerland (lower house) Dominique de Buman, said Switzerland will try to settle this problem within the framework of the Council of Europe.

The Russian delegation was stripped of the main powers in PACE in April 2014 in the wake of events in Ukraine and Crimea's reunification with Russia.

PACE discussed the restoration of the delegation's powers twice in 2015 but it kept the sanctions against Moscow in effect then. The Russian delegation was denied the right to vote and to take part in the activities of PACE's governing bodies and election monitoring missions through to the end of 2015.

The Russian delegation said in response it would not attend PACE sessions on these conditions. It did not send a query for the confirmation of its powers in 2016 and 2017 because of the Russophobic sentiments prevailing in Strasbourg.

Reports said at the end of last June Moscow was suspending the payments of its fees to CoE, as the Russian delegation was not taking part in the PACE routine. Simultaneously, the Russian side proposed to amend the assembly's procedural documents with a provision saying no one had the right to deprive any national delegations of powers.

Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the State Duma foreign policy committee said on January 11, 2018, Russia would not file a query for the confirmation of its powers at PACE this year.