Russia has suffered from its own responsive sanctions

Author : Serhiy Sydorenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Russia has decided to boycott the work of PACE and did not show up for voting, and Ukraine has benefited from it
11:44, 28 January 2016

Read the original text on Evropeiska Pravda

112 Agency

Russian Federation begins to feel the results after the termination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Due to lack of Russians, the Assembly adopted some decisions not in favor of Russia. It happened simply because there were no Russians in the hall and in the corridors.

Ukraine has also benefited from it: Ukrainian and Georgian MPs managed to change the position of PACE and the right of Kyiv to impose sanctions against the parliamentarians of other countries.

With the presence of Russian delegation this decision would be fundamentally different, and initially it was planned to prevent and prohibit sanctions and restrictions.

As a result, the text has not became “pro-Ukrainian”, many of Ukraine’s amendments were rejected. But in those conditions, the country has got fantastic results.

Related: PACE may declare Russia aggressor country responsible for Donbas conflict, - Russian politician

Simple calculation proves that the presence of the Russian delegation would change the balance of power to the opposite - even without taking into account their ability to influence the opinion of other deputies.

The problem of sanctions

This story began in 2014 when several influential Russian parliamentarians (including the head of the State Duma Sergei Naryshkin) were under sanctions by the EU because of their participation in the annexation of Crimea.

Deputies from the pro-EU (mainly - right radicals and communists) who supported annexation by serving visits to Crimea, have joined their ranks soon. Kyiv occasionally declared these parliamentarians persona non grata because they violated the rules of entry to Ukraine.

And as the most active European communists also attended the PACE (Assembly should reflect all parliamentary political forces), numerous protests against the Ukrainian decisions were expected to take place. And so it happened.

Finally, the situation was aggravated by responsive sanctions from Russia. As we might know, the blacklist of European Deputies, banned to enter Russia, was published in the spring 2015.

After this discussion imposing personal sanctions become inevitable.

Too many members of PACE were blacklisted, and they recognized this practice to be illegal.

These prohibitions has already taken place before. For example, for many years Azerbaijan prohibits entry to all without exception (including deputies), who visited occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.

Related: Lifting sanctions from Russia possible in a few months, - Kerry

Russian influence

To be frank, draft resolution approved by the PACE Committee and submitted to the Assembly, was disastrous for Ukraine.

This document reflects the current interests of the whole Russia. This is not surprising, because the issue was initiated by Duma deputy Alexei Pushkov. And the author of the report on the subject was Spaniard Diaz Tehera Arcadia, who did not conceal his attachment to Russia. Last year he was one of the few who voted against depriving Russia’s vote in PACE. Spaniard missed the new composition of the Assembly, but he prepared a report though.

Although Russia did not go to the current PACE session, it did not lose a chance to lobby for a favorable decision. Moreover, this lobby was quite effective,  based on the text of the resolution.

Related: PACE: MEPs will be held accountable for visiting occupied Crimea

This is only one of the points of the document. One of the most problematic.

"The Assembly regrets that there are blacklists of parliamentarians, forbidding them a visa or entry into the country. PACE condemns incidents involving members of the Assembly, who faced threats of criminal or administrative proceedings only because they (MPs) violated the law of the country for entry into its territory, exercising their right to free movement.

Assembly stresses that, regardless of whether it is legitimate, insistence of certain countries on its territorial integrity, sovereignty, as well as affiliation of the territory to the specific country, they (countries) cannot exempt themselves from compliance with the fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, introducing restrictions against individual persons,” stated in the document.

If the country is breaking the law, it is not a good reason for punishment?  

Assembly did not accept Ukrainian proposal to delete these two paragraphs, after long and secret negotiations its author, Vladimir Aryev, refused the amendment.

Ukrainian MPs spent six days on lobbying slightly softer amendments of the Georgian colleagues Chora Taktakishvili. These changes were milder though. Finally, the PACE recognized that in some cases Ukraine (and other countries as well) can impose sanctions and even criminal pursue against foreign parliamentarians.

"Criminal and administrative proceedings for violation of the (deputy) law on entry into the country should be carried out in full compliance with international law ... All the restrictive measures (sanctions) must comply with international law and the principles of integrity and respect for the law," according to the a new version.

Another attack against Russia was repelled, it relates to sanctions imposed in PACE. Russians plan to use this resolution in order to subsequently challenge the restrictions imposed on them by the Assembly.

Related: EU sanctions against Russia stay in place, - Gribauskaite

A victory?

No, it is not a definite victory of Ukraine.

There were still some problematic moments in the document, Ukrainian deputies could not fix them. Ukrainian diplomats admitted that it would be better not to have such a document at all, but the reality is different.

Even the amended resolution says that the ban on entry is unacceptable because of political position of the deputy. And there are no exceptions for cases, if the "position" is a denial of territorial integrity. There should be specific actions (visit to the occupied Crimea), so that the deputy could be subject of sanctions.

There must be a clear link between the sanctions imposed on a foreign member of parliament, and the purpose of these sanctions. Considerations of national security are not to be used as restrictions against parliamentarians who only peacefully expressed a political position, as said in the decision.

This Assembly rejected all Ukrainian and Georgian amendment that proposed to limit only the decision of deputies of PACE.

Another requirement of the document was to inform foreign parliamentarians of sanctions imposed on them.

Russia has decided to boycott the work of PACE - Moscow has not sent to the Council of Europe the list of its members in order to avoid the imposition of formal sanctions on them.

And in the end, the Russians have suffered because of their absence.

Related: Ukraine - Russia: sanctions in response

Firstly, the Ukrainian delegation was in "greenhouse conditions" when lobbying Ukrainian and Georgian amendments. In Strasbourg, there was no one who would systematically defended the Russian position.

Even under these conditions, a key amendment passed with a difference of just 14 votes. This is very little. Russian delegation has 18 votes. Another four voices Russians always might have from Armenian deputies, who due to the absence of "Russian brother" just did not come to a vote this time.

Thus, Russian presence in Strasbourg would convince them to take the opposite direction.

Definitely, this is not a win. Ukraine needs to work more and more to gain true support of the PACE.

Related: French deputies to visit occupied Crimea despite PACE resolution

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