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Russia Will Return to Council of Europe

Russia had suspended its participation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe last year 

This article originally appeared at Translated for RI by Aleksei Shestyan

Russia intends to return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) next year. This statement was made on Saturday, March 28 by Leonid Slutsky, head of the Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, according to Interfax news agency.

According to Slutsky, Russia will continue to “participate at the executive level, in the European Convention on Human Rights, and in all institutions of the Council of Europe,” despite having suspended its activities in the PACE Assembly. “We will return to PACE next year. We are actively working with all five political groups,” he stated.

Mr Slutsky stressed that Russia does not intend to withdraw from any international treaty:

“Our strategic opponents, who are on the other side of the ocean, above all want us to abandon all platforms where we can have an impact on the world stage. But if we do not have word on important matters, then we cannot conduct our foreign policy.”

In February this year, State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin referred to the January PACE session as “shameful.” On the other hand, he earlier admitted that, during the same session, he had nevertheless experienced the pleasure of a fierce political debate. However, the Parliamentary Assembly itself, according to Naryshkin, is rapidly losing its reputation as a pan-European platform for dialog. “There is a growth of politically marginalized (countries) and no desire on the part PACE to adequately respond to their claims.”

In late January, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich stated that Russia will continue to participate in the work of the Cabinet of Ministers and other bodies of the Council of Europe (CoE), despite the fact that the Russian delegation was denied the right to vote in PACE. He added that Russia intends to continue its participation in the implementation of programs of cooperation with the Council of Europe.

PACE extended sanctions against the Russian delegation on January 28 — the same sanctions that were introduced in April 2014 after Crimea joined the Russian Federation. These measures aimed to limit Moscow’s role in PACE and its right to vote and participate in the leadership of the Assembly, until April of this year. In response, head of the Russian delegation to PACE Alexei Pushkov said Moscow would suspend its activities in PACE until the end of 2015.

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