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Moscow won’t re-engage with Council of Europe until voting rights restored – Russian speaker

Moscow won’t re-engage with Council of Europe until voting rights restored – Russian speaker
Moscow’s position on its participation in the work of the Council of Europe remains unchanged – no re-engagement until its voting right is restored, the Russian parliament speaker told his visiting Finnish counterpart.

On Tuesday, Vyacheslav Volodin is hosting Paula Risikko during the official’s visit to Russia. Moscow’s continued absence from the work of the Council of Europe, the 47-member-strong rights body, topped the discussion. The Russian speaker said that, while Moscow values being part of the council and its various bodies, it won’t re-engage with it as long as discrimination against Russia there continues.

“We don’t require any special status for Russia. We insist on one thing, that all 47 member nations should be equal, as it is stated in the founding charter of the Council of Europe,” Volodin told Risikko.

Russia was stripped of its voting rights in the council and its parliamentary body PACE in 2014 in response to the political crisis in Ukraine, and Russia’s acceptance of Ukraine’s breakaway region of Crimea. Moscow responded by suspending its participation in all events of the council. Since 2017, Russia has suspended its contribution to the council’s budget, saying the money will be transferred after Russia’s voting rights are restored in full and the rules are changed to prevent similar discrimination against any member in future.

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The Russian Parliament is expected to review the situation later this week, but since no changes were made on the council’s side, legislators will recommend a continued freeze in relations, Volodin indicated.

We believe it to be impossible to work in a PACE, which endorses solving issues in this way, which fears hearing a dissenting opinion and giving a right vote… This approach is anathema to all the democratic principles that a parliamentary body should be based on.

Speaking to his Finnish guest, the Russian speaker said the difference of opinion about what happened in Ukraine in 2013-2014 will remain a stumbling block for Russia’s relations with other European nations.

“We believe a common understating has to be formed… Once we all acknowledge that there was an armed coup in Ukraine, an armed takeover of power, many issues and approaches will change and everything will fall in its place,” he said.

The so-called Maidan mass protest in Ukraine escalated into violent clashes, which resulted in the ouster of Ukraine’s elected president. The new authorities in Kiev and their foreign backers consider those events a “revolution of dignity,” a justified and genuine public uprising against a corrupt leader. Russia sees it as an orchestrated coup, in which a small group of politicians used the support of violent right-wing gangs to seize power, with Western nations turning a blind eye to any atrocities committed in the process.

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