Pushkov: Russia didn’t allow PACE to create working group in Ukraine

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The Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs noted that some European parliamentarians expressed their hope that Russia would return to PACE and continue working.

Russia refused the offer of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's (PACE) speaker Anne Brasseur to establish a working group in Ukraine, as the country finds impossible to interact with the organization considering the sanctions imposed against it. That statement was made by Alexey Pushkov, the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Head of the Russian delegation to PACE.

The politician said that after the January session of PACE “the State Duma began to receive letters, including those sent by Brasseur, the Head of the PACE, with an offer to establish a working group in Ukraine and asking with whom they can meet in Russia to discuss some reports”.

“We said that in the context of sanctions there won’t be any interaction until the end of the year,” confirmed the parliamentary.

He pointed out that some European parliamentarians expressed their hope that Russia would return to PACE and continue working. “However, we have already stated to freeze our relationships before the end of the year, as we categorically disagree with the renewal of sanctions,” said the Head of the Duma Committee.

However, in PACE “some people have a glimmer of hope that, as the sanctions were imposed before April the Russian delegation may return in April and the question on its authority will be reconsidered,” said Pushkov.

“But we refuse to transform each session into the Inquisition for Russia in Russophobes’ joy, I mean Russophobes from the Baltic states, Poland, Sweden,” he warned.

In this context, the Head of the Russian delegation reminded that even before the January session the State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin stated that in case of the sanctions renewal Russia would suspend its work in the Assembly until 2016. “At that time some thought it was a bluff, other thought it was blackmail, but it was neither bluff nor blackmail, we just informed them, and they made their choice,” he said.

In late January, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe decided to extend sanctions against the Russian delegation and deprive them of the right to vote and participate in decision-making processes until April. That amendment was adopted by 148 votes for and 64 votes against. After that the Russian delegation ceased to participate in PACE until the end of the year.

The Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs Alexey Pushkov stated: “I don’t see any positive signals towards the renewal of a parliamentary dialogue with the United States, although we don’t cease contacts with some representatives”.

According to him, today “there are no any contacts between the State Duma and the Congress of the United States, and it’s not our fault.” In fact, inter-parliamentary relations have been frozen since US lawmakers’ refuse to establish a dialogue with their Russian colleagues on the situation in Syria in 2013, specified the politician.

Pushkov said that through the US Ambassador Michael McFaul he proposed to meet with the USA on neutral territory, for example, in Vienna or Geneva.

“But we didn’t get an answer. Now America is ruled by anti-Russian sentiment, political analysts coming from the US say that earlier in the country there was never such harsh anti-Russian propaganda, even during the Cold War, and even in the times when Reagan was the President,” he said. “At that time the US aimed at defeating the foreign policy of the Soviet Union, and now the state aspires to change the political regime in Russia,” said the Head of the Duma Committee.

Text and pictures by TASS