A PACE resolution in April 2014 deprived the Russian delegation of its voting rights, in response to Crimea rejoining Russia. Russian lawmakers were barred from participating in PACE's three key bodies — its Bureau, Presidential Committee and Standing Committee.
Russia did not renew its credentials ahead of the Parliamentary Assembly’s 2016 winter session and made its return conditional upon the restoration of its delegates' right to vote and participate in PACE institutions.
Alexey Mukhin, head of the Moscow-based Center for Political Information, a consulting firm, told Radio Sputnik that both Moscow and Strasbourg are interested in restoring cooperation, and that both sides are currently “carefully probing” each other, seeking to resume dialogue.
"Russia is interested in returning to PACE, but only if its delegation’s rights are fully restored. And PACE is not interested in Russia quitting, not only because of the annual membership fees paid by Moscow, but because it wants to keep the organization representative," Mukhin explained.
He pointed out that a similar situation arose when Russia was excluded from the G8: while Moscow makes no attempt to rejoin the group, other G7 members keep making attempts to facilitate its return.
"Once every half a year or so, certain statements are made by them, indicating a desire to turn the G7 into the G8, because after losing Russia this group lost a considerable portion of its political influence over global issues. And if PACE loses Russia, the organization’s political influence would be diminished in a similar fashion, and they know it," Mukhin added.
However, up until now, the European officials were following a clear external directive: do their utmost to hamper Russia’s activity within the framework of PACE.
"If they keep doing that, the Russian delegation has no reason to be there. But, considering the attitudes exhibited by European politicians, they want Russia to return. When exactly is this going to happen? Probably when Washington decides to stop playing this sanctions and enmity game. Then, I believe, a corresponding directive will be issued to the European officials, and this idiotic nightmare will finally end," Mukhin concluded.