The FINANCIAL -- Russia's
parliament speaker said Thursday he has cancelled a visit to the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to avoid some
"Russophobic" delegations and a debate over a critical resolution.
Speaker of the State Duma lower house Sergei Naryshkin said he decided not to attend a PACE session on October 1 in Strasbourg, where he was scheduled to make a speech on the future of parliamentary life in Europe.
"We felt that my strategic recommendations would hardly be heard by some of the leaders of PACE and some of its Russophobic delegations," Naryshkin said in televised remarks. "(Their) interest apparently lies elsewhere."
Naryshkin is a top ally of President Vladimir Putin who previously served as head of the Kremlin administration.
European lawmakers are to vote on a resolution on Russia on October 2. A draft of it notes "serious concerns" over four "worrying" recent restrictive laws and says that "Russian society needs concrete reforms".
As EUbusiness reported, it also slams the recent conviction and jailing of punk group Pussy Riot on hooliganism charges for a performance in Russia's main cathedral, saying the two-year jail sentence is "patently disproportionate" and calls for their release.
The resolution caused a storm in Russia, with some delegates speaking in favour of a complete boycott of the session by Russia, Vedomosti newspaper reported Thursday.
The Duma was to decide later Thursday whether or not the entire Russian delegation of deputies should snub the session in Strasbourg, deputy Robert Shlegel of the ruling United Russia party wrote on Twitter.
The Duma, dominated by the pro-Kremlin United Russia, this summer passed laws hiking fines for political protests, criminalising slander, introducing a mandatory label of "foreign agent" for non-governmental organisations and creating a blacklist for undesirable Internet sites.