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Lithuanian lawmaker Emanuelis Zingeris warns that members of Russia's State Duma may use a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) resolution to bypass EU personal sanctions.

"On Monday, during the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg, it will be voted on a resolution that would open the way for a unilateral return of the Russian delegation to the PACE – i.e. full voting rights will be returned to the Russian delegation. The Russian delegation's rights were limited due to annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and violations of the Council of Europe Statute in 2014 and 2015," he said on Facebook on June 23.

Read alsoCouncil of Europe chief proposes changes to rules to ensure return of Russian delegation

According to him, it appears that four of 18 members of the new Russian delegation – i.e. Igor Lebedev (List No 114 of Decision 2014/145), Leonid Kalashnikov (List No 110 of Decision 2014/145), Svetlana Sergeevna (List No 116 of Decision 2014/145) and Leonid Slutsky (List No 18 of Decision 2014/145) – are under EU personal sanctions over Russia's aggression against Ukraine – a ban on entry into the EU (not valid for international organizations).

"It is obvious that Russia tries to use the PACE to bypass these EU personal sanctions," he said. "I want to remind that Russia has not fulfilled no one PACE resolution on the situation in Ukraine, does not comply with the Minsk agreements and continues its aggressive behavior in respect of Ukraine."

He adds that Ukrainian seamen seized in the Kerch Strait continue to be held in prison. Illegal "passporting" is carried out in Donetsk and Luhansk where Russian passports are issued to the residents of eastern Ukraine under a simplified procedure.

"It is, therefore, very important that the members of the PACE would remain principled and not support the resolution allowing the Russian delegation to return to the PACE. Otherwise, it would not only undermine the authority of this organization, but would also provide an additional argument for Russia to seek the cancellation of EU sanctions," he said.

As UNIAN reported earlier, the PACE on April 10, 2014, deprived the Russian delegation of its voting rights in the body over Russian aggression against Ukraine. The Russian delegation also lost the rights to be represented in the Bureau of the Assembly, the PACE Presidential Committee, the PACE Standing Committee, and the rights to participate in election-observation missions.

Russia in June 2017 cancelled its annual payment to the Council of Europe for 2017 after claiming its 18 delegates were being "persecuted" in response to the illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimea. The Russian side warned that no future payments would be made until the rights of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe "are fully restored."

On May 17, 2019, the foreign ministers of more than 30 states (from 47 member states of the Council of Europe) spoke in favor of the equal participation of all member states in the organization's statutory bodies, which could lead to the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions.

On June 3, the PACE Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs adopted a draft resolution providing for a more sophisticated procedure for imposing sanctions against national delegations in the Assembly.

This draft resolution should finally be approved by the Assembly on June 24.

The Ukrainian delegation asks Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to instruct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to take the necessary measures to prevent the Russian delegation from returning to the PACE.