Russia Suspends Cooperation with Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe

Dr. Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the State Duma foreign policy committee

Russia has temporarily suspended cooperation with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) through to the end of the period of sanctions the assembly imposed on the delegation over the political situation in Ukraine.

Declaring that Russia’s annexation of Crimea was “in clear contradiction with the Statute of the Council of Europe” and the commitments Russia made when it joined PACE in 1996, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided last April to suspend a series of rights of the Russian delegation effective until the end of the 2014 session (26 January 2015). This includes: voting rights, the right to be represented in the Assembly’s leading bodies (the Bureau of the Assembly, the Presidential Committee, and the Standing Committee), and the right to participate in election observation missions.

State Duma speaker, Sergei Naryshkin, informed PACE President Anne Brasseur about the Russian delegations decision. He also voiced the readiness to visit Strasbourg and to make a speech there - after the full scope of the Russian delegation’s powers is restored, as The Voice of Russia reports.

"At present, PACE's top decision-makers are considering a response to Naryshkin's letter," Dr. Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the State Duma foreign policy committee, said in an interview with Izvestia daily. He expects that the “freezing of a part of our delegation's powers stays in effect through to January 2015 when the powers of all the national delegations are endorsed anew. And even then a part of PACE members may speak in favor of a prolongation of sanctions."

"But we're not changing our approach, as we're confident PACE assumed an unacceptably one-sided position on the Ukrainian issue by claiming the authorities in Kiev are virtuous in all of their actions and Russia is to blame for all of Ukraine's misfortunes," Dr. Pushkov said.

The Moscow Times reports that, following the sanctions, the Russian delegation hinted it might ask to retract this year's contribution to the Council of Europe’s budget. Russia contributes 23 million euros to the Council of Europe's budget annually, making it one of top five donors.


Photo courtesy of St.Petersburg International Economic Forum.