MOSCOW, January 18. The Russian delegation will not participate in January and, apparently, subsequent sessions of the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in 2016.
It was also decided to transfer the European organization only a third of the set for Russia’s monetary contribution.
Mironov: Russia should stop paying dues to the Council of Europe
These moves came in response to the sanctions, which were imposed PACE against the Russian Parliament in 2014.
The Russian delegation in PACE in April 2014 was deprived of substantive powers because of the events in Ukraine and the reunification of the Crimea with Russia. In 2015 the Assembly has twice considered the question of the restoration of the Russian delegation in her rights, but sanctions still remain: Russia deprived of voting rights and the right to participate in decision-making bodies of the Assembly and its monitoring missions to observe elections in the CE space.
In response, Russia said it will suspend its involvement in PACE activity until the end of 2015 and will be back to PACE only when removed from all sanctions.
Statement of Naryshkin and Matviyenko
On refusal of the Russian delegation to go to Strasbourg said on Monday the leaders of both chambers of the Russian Parliament – state Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin and the Chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko. In a letter sent to them addressed to the head of the PACE Anne Brasseur, States that the Parliament of the Russian Federation “at the moment it is not possible to refer to PACE for approval of the credentials of the Russian delegation to the January session of the Assembly in 2016”.
The Russian Parliament is ready to resume work at PACE while respecting the rights of delegations
“This is due to the fact that in 2014-2015 in relation to the delegation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to PACE the decisions of the Assembly applied measures of a restrictive nature, impose significant limitations in the implementation of its democratic credentials as the deputation of the Russian Parliament, acting in accordance with the will of Russian citizens”, – explained in the document.
The letter also States that “the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation remains a strong supporter of inter-parliamentary dialogue and will be ready to resume work in PACE in case of observance of equal rights and opportunities for all national delegations”. The document contains a reference to paragraph 6.4 of the rules of procedure of PACE, according to which the Russian Parliament reserves the right “to form a national delegation at a later stage, when it will develop all necessary preconditions”.
As noted by the speaker of the state Duma, the Russian Parliament strongly disagrees with PACE imposed sanctions that deprive the parliamentarians of the Russian Federation of a number of substantial authority and prevent the delegation to implement its functions. “We are deeply convinced that these decisions were taken on the ground or surface, or simply prejudice against the causes and events of the internal Ukrainian crisis,” Naryshkin said.
In turn, Matvienko recalled that Russia had previously called for the PACE to abandon discriminatory measures against parliamentarians from the Russian Federation. “This call remained unanswered. As a result we have what we have”, – stated the speaker of the upper chamber.
At the same time, Matviyenko said that the refusal to participate in PACE session in January does not mean the final refusal of Russia to work in this organization. “Abandoning the trip to Strasbourg, we are not shutting the door. The Russian Parliament is ready to resume work in PACE in case of observance of equal rights and opportunities for all national delegations, including ours,” stressed the head of the Federation Council.
Pause may be delayed
The pause in relations between Russia and the PACE can be delayed until the end of this year, says the Chairman of the Duma Committee on international Affairs, head of the Russian delegation in PACE Alexei Pushkov, who is also head of the Russian delegation in PACE. In his opinion, the possibility of an earlier return of the Russian Parliament in Strasbourg is more of a theoretical nature.
“After the elections (to the Duma), Russia might re-apply (with a request to the powers in PACE),” said Pushkov journalists. He noted that it depends on “the timing of the September – October session, from the dates when the will hold its first meeting of the state Duma – after the September elections”.
Cannon: the return of the Russian Federation in PACE in 2016 only after the Duma elections
“So the theoretical possibility of a return in 2016 exists. But, as to the advisability of such return, my point is that until you have created the conditions for a full return of the Russian delegation, we must refrain from working in this organization”, – said Pushkov.
He believes that the restoration of relations with PACE “will be associated with the process of revising the sanctions against Russia from the EU”. “PACE is not an independent organization that it currently is. The majority of delegations to the PACE are the ruling party in the EU, the deputies, of course, guided by the official position of their governments and the leaders of their parties. Therefore, when the EU will reconsider sanctions against Russia, then, in my opinion, may create the political conditions to cancel them, and some delegations of the EU in the PACE – so that they, too, were inclined to refuse those illegal sanctions taken against the Russian delegation,” – says the MP.
The reduction in funding
From the further developments will depend on Russia’s fulfilment of its financial obligations to the Council of Europe. So far agreed to pay only a third of the cash contribution, which the Russian Federation is obliged to transfer the contents of pan-European organization.
“As for the payment, in the month of February, we – the Russian Federation – will pay part of this fee in the amount of one third from it, and then we’ll see, we’ll continue to monitor the situation”, – told to journalists the speaker of the state Duma. According to him, the usual contribution is about EUR 32 million. It’s about 10% of the budget of the Council of Europe.
According to the leader of the parliamentary faction “Fair Russia” Sergey Mironov, it is necessary to go further and opt out of paying contributions to the COE. “We need to stop paying dues to this organization. Premiums are paid to the Council of Europe, but as soon as the PACE works without the Russian delegation, there then why do we have fees to pay? Russia without PACE will cost, but the cost if PACE without the large countries – the big question. Nothing to pay – I will be interrupted”, – told reporters the leader of just Russia.
“Without the Russian parliamentarians, who filled the organization’s work to live, the Assembly’s role is becoming more decorative. See it all,” – said, in turn, Matvienko, adding that PACE, “faints and fades.”