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Russia not coming back to PACE as long as possibility of discrimination remains – top senator

Russia not coming back to PACE as long as possibility of discrimination remains – top senator
Russia won’t be returning to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as long as it’s possible to discriminate against delegations based on “taste or political preferences,” the Federation Council chairwoman said.

The absence of Russia from the organization marks “a real crisis in PACE, which affects the Council of Europe as a whole,” Valentina Matvienko said.

“They understand… that a solution must be found,” she pointed out, commenting on the recent PACE resolution, which called upon Russia to form a delegation and make its annual payment to the assembly.

Moscow has welcomed such positive signals and was ready to continue discussions, the chairwoman of the Russian parliament’s upper house said. However, she noted that “no decision has so far been made on the principal issue” of discrimination.

The Russian delegation will return to PACE only after changes are made to the regulations, creating an equal and unified playing field for all national delegations, Matvienko stated. Russia is anxious to wait until this happens, she added.

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The rift between Moscow and PACE started in 2014 after Crimea’s reunification with Russia and allegations of its involvement in the military conflict in Ukraine. Back then, the Russian delegation was deprived of its voting rights and banned from participating in the ruling bodies or monitoring missions of the organization.

Moscow insisted that PACE regulations contradict the charter of the Council of Europe, and proposed changes to make discrimination against national delegations more difficult. But the resolution was stalled by the UK, Ukraine and other members.

Russia responded by stopping all participation in PACE sessions and withholding its payments to the Council of Europe.

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