MOSCOW, January 10. /TASS/. State Duma Deputy Speaker Pyotr Tolstoi and Chairman of the Federation Council Committee for Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachyov intend to hold negotiations in Geneva on Monday, January 14, with President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Liliane Maury Pasquier, a source in the Russian parliament told TASS on Thursday.

“A closed working session between Russian parliamentary members and the PACE head is to take place. Kosachyov and Tolstoi are expected to represent our side. The negotiations themselves are set for January 14,” the source confirmed.

The State Duma earlier published on its website the information about Tolstoi’s participation “in the discussion of issues of the current situation in the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly” in Geneva. January 13-15 was named as the period of the trip.

On January 9, Tolstoi reported that the State Duma received a letter from PACE Secretary-General Wojciech Sawicki with the proposal to send a Russian delegation to the assembly’s winter session which opens on January 21 in Strasbourg. Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Foreign Affairs Leonid Slutsky added that in light of this the decision was made to hold expanded consultations involving the Russian Foreign Ministry, senators and representatives for all factions to work out a consolidated position of Russia’s further participation in the PACE’s operation. The general decision may be developed by January 16, Slutsky said.

Russia and the PACE

The Russian delegation in the PACE was stripped of the right to vote in April 2014 due to events in Ukraine and Crimea’s reintegration with Russia. In 2015, the PACE twice studied the issue of restoring the authorities of the Russian delegation, but then the sanctions were only tightened. In response, the Russian delegation stated the refusal to work under such conditions, and in 2016-2018 it did not send a request to confirm its powers. Russia also suggested introducing provisions to the PACE rules of procedure which say that no one has the right to deprive parliamentary members of their authority save their voters.

On October 10, 2018, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland stated that Russia’s rights to representation in the CoE statutory bodies (the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly) may be suspended from June 2019 for systematic non-payment of membership dues. In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia will leave the Council of Europe itself if its opponents in the organization insist on Moscow’s exclusion.

On December 10, the PACE rules committee opposed the deprivation of national delegations of the right to take part in elections of the organization’s secretary general and judges of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). However, Russian Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said that Russia is not satisfied with the partial restoration of the authorities of its delegation in the PACE and expects the full and unconditional restoration of all the rights of the delegation and the development of such rules and procedures which would rule out similar actions on the part of the Assembly’s majority.

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