Russia freezes €11mn Council of Europe fee payment over lingering PACE spat

Russia freezes €11mn Council of Europe fee payment over lingering PACE spat
State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has told reporters that Russia will withhold one-third of its 2017 fee to the Council of Europe, due to the CE’s Parliamentary Assembly still barring the Russian delegation from participation in its sessions.

We have blocked the payment. The financing is organized in stages and we simply will not wire them one-third that should have been paid at the end of the year,” Volodin was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

The speaker added that the frozen sum amounted to about €11 million (US$12.4 million).

Russian officials and politicians have repeatedly already raised the issue of cutting the fees that the country annually pays to the Council of Europe because of non-participation in the parliamentary assembly (PACE).

The conflict started in 2014, after PACE stripped the Russian delegation of its voting rights and banned it from participating in the group’s ruling bodies or monitoring missions until the end of that year over Russia’s alleged role in the political crisis in Ukraine. The sanctions were prolonged in 2015 and 2016.

As a result of this ruling Russia’s delegation members stopped participating in PACE sessions because they considered it impossible to resume discussions while the sanctions were in force.

Russia has also responded by a parliamentary resolution stating that nations which have repeatedly violated international law and caused thousands of casualties have no moral right to judge Russia or impose sanctions on it.

In addition, Russia did not invite PACE monitors to its 2016 parliamentary elections. Instead, the Russian Foreign Ministry invited representatives of four international political blocs and organizations – the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Russian officials have repeatedly said that a return to fully-fledged cooperation with PACE is possible once the assembly stops what they describe as discriminatory policies towards the Russian delegation.