Duma chief says PACE locked itself out of Russian parliamentary polls

© Igor Ageyenko
Lower house Speaker Sergey Naryshkin said PACE monitoring of State Duma elections will become possible only after the rights of its Russian delegation are fully restored. He added that cooperation with lawmakers from other nations will continue.

After they deprived the Russian delegation of its right to vote, we announced that we were suspending contacts with PACE [Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe] as an organization, but not quitting it yet. Despite harsh rhetoric on the part of the assembly we continue to interact with parliamentarians from various countries in a very close way,” Naryshkin told Izvestia daily.

READ MORE: Russian PACE mission ready to return - Duma speaker

I would really prefer reason to prevail in PACE. Instead of inventing new limitations we should quickly make a decision getting rid of any barriers in communication between parliaments. If such understanding becomes a reality we would return to this body,” he stated. “I hope that the European parliamentary traditions prove themselves stronger than any provocations.

We are not refusing to participate in the dialogue, but everyone must understand that by ordering this inadmissible infringement of the Russian delegation’s rights, [PACE] made the presence of its monitors at State Duma elections impossible. At the same time, we will invite a broad circle of monitors from other international groups – the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] and from national parliaments” Naryshkin told the newspaper.

The Duma chief also said that many politicians in Europe, including members of parliaments were supporting the idea of cancelling the anti-Russian sanctions, imposed by a group of Western nations headed by the United States. He added that it was important that people did not fear expressing such opinions.

Relations between Russia and PACE soured after April 2014, when the assembly approved the anti-Russian resolution over 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.

READ MORE: PACE monitors not expected at State Duma elections – top Russian MP

The Russian parliament replied with a resolution reading that nations that repeatedly violated international law, causing thousands of casualties, have no moral right to judge Russia or impose sanctions on it. MPs also said that they considered it impossible to resume discussions at PACE while sanctions against Russia are still in force.

In February this year, Naryshkin addressed the people of Europe with a call to “stop looking for an enemy in a place where there is none” and instead pay more attention to parts of the world that pose a real threat to humanity’s common values.