Russian delegates will not take part in the first session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 2016, chairman of the State Duma, Sergei Naryshkin said. The session is to take place on January 25-29 in Strasbourg.
According to sources in the Russian government, the decision is final.
"The Russian Foreign Ministry delivered a report about the plans of going to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. For the time being, there is no guarantee that Russia will again receive the rights and powers that the country used to have in the organization. We do not want to go to Strasbourg to be politically slapped again," the source said.
However, should PACE reinstate Russia in its rights and powers in the organization before January 25, the Russian delegation will go to Strasbourg, albeit the number of delegates will be cut. On January 18, Russian lawmakers will condemn the practice of using sanctions against parliamentary delegations. Thus, the Russian delegation will be able to return to the PACE only if its powers are fully recovered.
The leaders of the Russian delegation also said that Russia may either suspend or cut the fee that it pays for its PACE membership. This is a reasonable decision to make, given the current state of affairs in the field of cooperation with the PACE.
Russia has been paying the PACE, the Council of Europe and the European Court for Human Rights for years. It just so happens that all these payments were made to receive criticism and listen to anti-Russian remarks, Russian officials said. In April 2014, the PACE administration stripped Russia of its powers in the organization because of the crisis in Ukraine and following Russia's reunification with the Crimea.
In 2015, the Assembly considered the question of reinstating the rights of the Russian delegation twice, but the sanctions still remain in force. Russia is denied the right to vote and participate in the work of the governing bodies of the Assembly and its mission to monitor elections in the Council of Europe.
Russia suspended its participation in the PACE until the end of 2015. Many Russian officials believe that Russia should not pay the organization for receiving spits in the face in return.
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