Chairman of the State Duma
Viaсheslav Viktoroviсh The Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation of the seventh convocation. He was elected as part of the federal list of candidates proposed by the All-Russian political party “United Russia” said that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should return the funds that Russia spent on contributions to the Assembly during those years when it did not participate in PACE and was deprived of the right to vote.
“For the sake of cleanliness of relations, in 2014 the Russian delegation was deprived of the right to vote, we did not participate in the work [of PACE]; 2015 — we did not participate; 2016 — we did not participate. Not because we didn’t want, but because we were deprived of our right to vote,” he said.
“But in 2014 the contribution was paid; 2015 — contribution was paid; and in 2016, we paid contribution, and a third of contribution was paid in 2017,” reminded Viacheslav Volodin, adding that Russia was one of the largest contributors with the annual contribution of 32.5 million euros.
The Chairman of the State Duma believes that “based on the fact that we were not given the opportunity to participate, moreover, not due to our fault, but based on the decision that was taken we want the Parliamentary Assembly to return the funds to Russia, as we are talking about big money.”
According to him, the Russian Federation has spent about 10 billion Russian rubles for the years that it was deprived of the right to vote: “The sum is huge. And we, of course, need it, the country needs to address the issues that citizens face.”
Viacheslav Volodin noted that Russia would raise the issue of returning money at negotiations with PACE representatives.
“A dialogue is being held. And I hope that at the next negotiations, which will take place (as we continue our communication), this topic will be discussed,” said the Chairman of the State Duma. “Of course, we have a reason to raise this question and say let's think about how you will return these funds to us, we joined the organization on an equal footing.”
He reminded that Russia continues to insist on ensuring equal rights for all national delegations in accordance with the Statute of the Council of Europe and the PACE Rules of Procedure.
Answering the question about the possibility of the exclusion from the Council of Europe due to non-payment of contributions, Viacheslav Volodin said: “With Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe there will be no such structure because there is the European Union, there is the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe is uniquely linked to Russia. If there is no Russia, there will be no PACE, there will be no Council of Europe.”