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Russian parliament speaker calls recent two years discreditable time in PACE's history

Speaker of the Russian State Duma (parliament's lower house) said in a television interview the recent two years, where Anne Brasseur was President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), are the discreditable time in its history.

"This period of 18-24 months, I would say openly, make a very discreditable time in the history of the Parliamentary Assembly and, unfortunately, of the Council of Europe," he said in an interview with the Vesti television program.

He pointed to a personal role of PACE'S former President Anne Brasseur in worsening of the relations between Russia and the Assembly in Strasbourg.

"My impression was, the former leader of the Parliamentary Assembly, which has just stepped down, for two years was sitting there in the hall and would not see a biggest delegation, the Russian delegation. She did not care."

In 2014, the parliamentary arm of the 47-nation Council of Europe, promoting democracy and human rights across the continent, stripped Russia of voting rights following events in Ukraine. It suspended both Russia's right to sit on its governing bodies and Russian participation in election observer missions.

Russian parliamentary delegates left the April session before its official completion as a gesture of protest and refused to take part in future PACE activities, staying away from the assembly's summer and autumn sessions. At the January session in 2015, PACE extended its sanctions against Russia's delegation until April. In response, Moscow severed contact with the group for another year. The Russian delegation repeatedly stated that it will return to PACE only if all sanctions from Russia are removed. The Russian delegation is not taking part in PACE's winter session underway in Strasbourg.

Speakers of the two houses of the Russian legislature Sergei Naryshkin and Valentina Matviyenko sent a letter to PACE's president saying the legislature could resume its work at PACE if rights of national delegations are observed there.

In response to the address, Anne Brasseur, the then president, said the Russian delegation will not be able to participate in the work of Assembly through the current year or, at least, to next parliamentary elections in Russia (after which a new delegation will be formed - TASS).

[Source: Itar Tass, Vladivostok, 30Jan16]

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