Matvienko: Russia Will Only Cooperate with PACE on Equal Terms

Federation Council speaker Valentina Matvienko has reiterated that Russia will only cooperate with PACE once sanctions against its delegation are lifted.

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Russia is being unfairly discriminated against by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and will only cooperate with it on equal terms, Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the Federation Council, has told TASS.

Matviyenko's comments came following a PACE session on Wednesday, where members of the Assembly voted to continue sanctions imposed against the Russian delegation that block its right to participate in meetings and monitoring activities, and its right to vote. Anne Brasseur, the President of PACE, later announced that Russia's role would be reconsidered in January 2016.

“The Russian Federation does not deserve to be subjected to such a politicized, discriminatory decision,” Matvienko said. “We regret that PACE is following the anti-Russian sentiments that are popular in Europe right now.”

However, Matvienko stressed that Russia is not about to abandon its contacts with PACE, and that the country is still ready to engage in dialogue.

"We don't need any handouts or favor, we respect ourselves, and we are ready and interested in continuing cooperation with PACE. But we will do so on equal terms. If they are going to discriminate against us, we are not willing to cooperate with them," she said.

The speaker expressed regret that PACE, "which was created as a platform for dialogue between the parliaments of Council of Europe's member states", has succumbed to Western pressure.

Russia's deteriorating relations with PACE

Relations began to sour following the Crimea and Sevastopol's decision to join the Russian Federation in a referendum. In April 2014, PACE adopted a resolution that saw the Russian delegation denied its right to vote. In addition, Russia found itself excluded from the Assembly's governing bodies and suspended from its observer mission.

The Russian delegation labelled the sanctions as unjust and incompetent, and prematurely left the session, before refusing to take part in the June and October 2014 PACE sessions. Then, on April 18 this year, the State Duma announced Russia would only resume dialogue with PACE after sanctions against its delegation are lifted.

More recently, PACE President Brasseur held out an olive branch of sorts when she invited Russia to join a special working group on Ukraine. However, Russia refused the offer, saying it is impossible to interact with PACE so long as its sanctions remain in place.

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