Russian MPs to start PACE work despite voting ban – report

Russian MPs to start PACE work despite voting ban – report
A group of Russian lawmakers will go to Strasbourg to present reports on healthcare, internet regulation and fighting against Nazism.

The legislators who will take part in the fall session of Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly include Robert Shlegel, Olga Kazakova and Olga Borzova, all of the centrist-conservative party United Russia that currently holds the majority of seats in the State Duma.

Izvestia daily reported that other participants of Russia’s delegation to the assembly will return to work only after their powers are restored in full.

“There have been positive shifts in relations between Russia and PACE since the latest session. We cannot say that they returned to the level that preceded the Ukrainian crisis, but it is obvious that European countries are interested in dialogue and economic cooperation with Russia,” Izvestia quoted the lower house officials as saying.

Russian MPs going to Strasbourg told the daily that their reports would be delivered from PACE as an organization and not from the Russian delegation. This has thwarted the attempts of some European politicians to preclude Russia’s representatives from speaking.

Kazakova said she planned to participate in the presentation of the report on countering neo-Nazi manifestations. She promised to concentrate on the details that had been omitted in the initial version of the document like glorifying Nazi criminals and defiling the monuments to the members of the Allies.

“To me, the most important task was to emphasize the importance of the ban on such groups as Galichina and Waffen SS, that are branches of the SS troops, recognized as criminal and banned by the Nuremberg process. Right now these organizations are especially active in the Baltic countries and in Ukraine,” Kazakova told Izvestia.

MP Vasily Likhachev (Communist Party) said that the lawmakers’ planned participation in PACE work reflected the responsibility of Russia’s foreign policy and understanding of global and regional problems that cannot be solved without Russia’s participation. Besides, this is a testimony to the fact that Russia understands the importance of PACE as a political institution and is ready to return to work, he added.

“It is obvious that people in PACE also understand that without Russia’s participation in solving the Ukrainian political crisis it is impossible to restore effective order in Europe,” he noted.

The deputy head of the State Duma Committee for International Relations, Andrey Klimov (United Russia), told reporters that in his view it was impossible to continue the work in PACE in the same way it was done at the latest session. Russia should return the respect of other members of the body. He added that there were signs that European lawmakers were ready to change their attitude.

“Most likely the situation will change after the truth about the Ukrainian events is disclosed. Some reports have emerged already about the Malaysian Boeing crash and Russia’s non-involvement in it. Amnesty International has made a statement that Ukrainian troops are hardly doves of peace. They have already started to pay attention to Russia’s position,” Klimov said.

In April this year, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved an anti-Russian resolution in connection with the political crisis in Ukraine, depriving the Russian delegation of the right to vote and banning it from participation in PACE’s ruling bodies and monitoring missions till the end of the year.

In reply, the State Duma passed a statement claiming nations who repeatedly violated international law, causing thousands of casualties, have no moral right to judge Russia or impose sanctions on it. Russian MPs also stated that they considered it impossible to resume the dialogue at PACE when the sanctions against Russia are still in force.