(Eurasia Daily Monitor) Russia has achieved much success last week in its rush toward self-isolation, and perhaps the most demonstrative step was made in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Sergei Naryshkin, the Chairman of the State Duma, came to Strasbourg as the head of the Russian delegation expecting to reach a compromise on the issue of restoring Russia’s full participation in this important pan-European forum. But he was so irked by the international body’s decision to prolong its sanctions against Russia (including the suspension of the right to vote) for another three months that he stormed out of the Palace of Europe and announced that his country would abstain from partaking in the PACE proceedings until the end of 2015 (Ezhednevny Zhurnal, January 30).
Some outraged Russian parliamentarians predictably railed against the “discredited bureaucracy” of the Council of Europe, even if the only other precedent, to date, of such a unilateral abstention from participating in PACE was set by the Greek military junta in 1969 (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 29). Other zealous legislators even suggested Russia should now restore capital punishment, which was legally abolished in 1996 to meet the conditions for joining the Council of Europe in the first place (Rossiiskaya Gazeta, January 29). Meanwhile, the PACE commission was denied access to Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian pilot who was captured near Luhansk in June 2014, and has been held behind bars in Moscow as a hostage in the bargaining with the Europeans (Grani.ru, January 29). […]
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