Russian delegation again left Strasburg without having found mutual understanding with most of the members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It was clear before the beginning of the session that the right to vote will not be granted. Why did they go there? Hoped for common sense? And what will be the consequences? Ultimate exit from this platform and exit from the Council of Europe?
I have to point out that the Europeans were surprised by your comment about your exit, are they that clueless? Do they live in their own world?
Alexey Pushkov, the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Relations:
Some of them thought, that although we informed them, in case of sanctions, and in particular – stripping the right to vote, which was the main sanction applied to us, that we will leave until the end of the year. But they thought, so what, “they came here, threatening us, putting pressure on us.” Someone shouted that the Russian delegation is blackmailing them, that if “we approve the sanctions, they will leave, so we should approve the sanctions on principle”.
And part of them didn’t understand, that when they approved the sanctions, and when we congratulated them with such a wise decision, after which nothing in Ukraine depends on them anymore, and all the contacts with Russia are cut, they realized that they cannot demand anything from us.
They wanted to meet with Savchenko and we were prepared to help with this issue in Moscow, if we stayed in PACE, now that we left, PACE will have no access to Savchenko for sure. Other international organizations may have such access, but PACE is excluded from this issue.
They wanted to make a Human Rights report in Crimea. And we allowed such possibility, while we insisted on a Human Rights report in Eastern Ukraine, where they are violated much more then in Crimea. And we told them, yes, we may consider an opportunity for you to go to Crimea and work on such report. Now this issue is closed.
Parliamentary Assembly excluded itself from the process of resolving Ukrainian crisis and from the dialogue with Russia about Ukraine. I think some of them understood that this will happen. But they wanted to isolate Russia and push us out. But some of them only got it now.
After our departure on Friday they started to actively discuss what will be their next steps. “The Russians said, we can meet with Savchenko, we can go to Crimea”, and then someone said: “Wait, the Russians are gone!”
And Ukrainians said, “The Russians offered … we should take their offers!” – “Well, then go talk to the Russians!” But were are they? They are already in Moscow!
I think that PASE punished itself in their anti-Russian push, to show us that we are not agreed with, that we have to be punished, limited in our rights, they forgot that they lost Russia, a key player in Europe.
Now they are getting it. And we hear again talk that the dialogue with Russia is very important, and they can’t afford to loose it. And so on and so forth.
You asked, why did we go there. And I want to answer that question. There are not that many platforms in Europe where we can say the truth about Ukraine. And we speak the truth about Ukraine there.
We relentlessly bring up the issue of Odessa Massacre. We tell them, do you really think, that several dozen people can burn themselves, shoot themselves in the face, suffocate themselves? We talk about the refugees. We talk about the bombings of residential neighborhoods, about the murdered children We talk about what goes on in Eastern Ukraine, the number of killed and wounded in Eastern Ukraine.
If we are not there then no one will talk about it. Only our delegation goes against the mainstream. And sometimes I am asked, if there are any results. Yes, there are results.
I have to tell you that now 64 deputies, about more then 30% of deputies voted against the sanctions. And in April, when we were first stripped of the right to vote, only 20 people voted against.
So we are moving this agenda ahead, and there is much more skepticism towards Ukraine, much less faith.
There are people whom we have established very good relationships with. These is the left faction, some of the socialists, some of the conservatives. Many people came to our defense, representatives of the Serbian delegation, French, Norwegian.
We have to see that this is a platform on which an information war is waged.
V.S.: If this is a platform where a war is waged, then why did you leave?
We left because Russia is not prepared to play a role of a statist.
V.S.: Then why did you go, the British said it will be “good bye”!
Sergey Zheleznyak, Deputy Chairman of State Duma of RF:
The thing is, every year each national delegation is reviewed. The sanctions which were enacted last year expired by the end of 2014. And even at the session of the profile commission, which reviewed this issue, the spread was with a difference of only one vote a day before the parliamentary session.
We payed attention to the extraordinary efforts taken by Western diplomatic missions and international organizations to adjust the positions of those deputies who demanded to keep our privileges. There was talk that those who support Russia will have no political future in their own countries. And those delegates from countries other then EU were directly threatened, that if they support Russia, they will be put on black lists, and won’t be able to go …
V.S.: Who told them?
In private conversations with various representatives of Euro-bureaucracy and a large number of Trans-Atlantic lobbyists, who very officially are acting … Their lobbyists are not just better then ours but much more tougher.
The truth is on our side, but what was remarkable is not only what was done but how it was done.
I was the author of all the adjustments for the final project of a resolution from our country.
When I was preparing them, I set politics aside on purpose and only followed the norms of common sense and international law. For example, if PACE is against volunteers from Russia, then it should be against volunteers from all countries, and not just Russia. When I was told, “no, the ban should only be for volunteers from Russia” And I said, therefore this is a paradox – that means volunteers from Abkhazia, South Ossethia, Belorus, and other countries may be there? They said, this is not as important, our task is to force Russia to follow our line.
The paradox is that they think that our participation in PACE is a privilege, which we can be blackmailed with. For us only a fair dialogue is acceptable. And we were prepared to have it, but we weren’t heard.