17:16 Sep. 13, 2016
So when should Russian parliamentarians return to PACE? Well, never, - Vitaly Portnikov on Russia's presence in a European body
Can PACE really renew voting rights for the Russian delegation at the Parliament Assembly taking into consideration Russia itself never tried not even once, to step back from any of the occupied territories – along with its delegations voting rights which were suspended right after the annexation of Crimea – moreover, Moscow refused to even discuss the situation after Putin's regime, in fact, violated every boundary of international law?
It may seem a paradox at first glance, but now the supporters of the Russian return to PACE gets a real chance to restore powers of its Russian delegation. It could be done using results of Russian parliamentary elections as a reason. After all, the new State Duma deputies would not be the people who voted in support of Crimea annexation. Therefore, one can and should renew a dialogue with them.
That decision, of course, would be a total victory for Russia over any international law. Because "that" PACE resolution would hang in the air. And that's not all. PACE expected Russia would go on cooperating with the organization – despite the sanctions applied. But the Chairman of the State Duma Sergey Naryshkin took a hard-line stance on this matter: full powers restoration and nothing less. He verbalized that demand every time he met with PACE heads in Moscow. So it would look like PACE surrenders – ok, not to Naryshkin, but to Putin's next puppet, picturing himself as a Parliamentary lower chamber speaker. What international law, what defense of legitimacy can we speak about in that case?
Obviously, if voting rights of Russian delegation are not restored after the forthcoming elections, there will be no legal cause like that in the nearest future. Russia will not step out of Crimea – possibly not until the total dismantling of Putin's regime and not until the probable breakdown of Russian federation. So when should Russian parliamentarians return to PACE?
Well, never. If PACE deputies respected themselves and their countries, they would understand that. Belarus has lost its special guest status in PACE, when in 1997 European Council recognized the elections in this country as non-democratic. The status has not been restored since then, as Lukashenko did not fulfill requests made by PACE. I want to emphasize: this question was the matter of internal politics, not of violation of international law. Belarus never stole any land from other countries'. So how is Russia better than Belarus? Because it is bigger? How this double standards policy can affect the prestige of PACE?
From the legal point of view, parliamentary elections in Russia must be the reason not to restore Russian delegation's rights but to cancel them for good. Despite all protests from the international organizations and despite recognition of Crimea as an occupied territory, Russia is still going to hold elections there. Therefore, after these elections, legitimacy will be lost not only by the Federation Council, which already has Crimean deputies, but also by State Duma, which will have them. After these elections, we can say for sure: there is no Russian parliament anymore. Instead, there is just some gang!
So why self-respecting parliamentarians should sit next to some gangsters? They shouldn't. Restoring of voting rights for Russian delegation after the shameful elections in Crimea will not become some renewal of dialogue, but beginning of the end of PACE, or even the whole European Council. There is no sense in existence of organization declining the basic principles of international law. Just no sense at all.
If I were Putin, in case of PACE's capitulation I would include some so-called "State Duma deputies" from Crimea to Russian delegation – Poklonskaya, for instance. I guess, that's just what he'll do. Humiliation of PACE must be total. And we must do whatever we can to avoid becoming witnesses of that.