MOSCOW, April 10 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will abstain from Thursday’s debate on the country's status in the assembly over European objections to the reunification of Crimea with Russia, a source in the delegation told RIA Novosti.
“We have decided not to take part,” the source said, adding that the question of Russia’s expulsion from PACE is not currently on the table.
Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian delegation, meanwhile called the debate on Russia’s credentials a political farce.
“The Russian delegation refuses to take part in the discussion or even remain in the assembly hall. This political farce is repulsive,” Pushkov said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is expected on Thursday to debate a motion to strip the Russian delegation of its powers over its stance on Crimea, formerly a region in Ukraine which overwhelmingly voted to become a part of Russia last month.
The assembly claims that by violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity, Russia jeopardized international security and stability. Pushkov earlier said that if the question of terminating Russia’s powers in the assembly is put to a vote, Russian delegates will immediately walk out.
“We will not tolerate the expulsion. If the issue is put to a vote, we will withdraw from PACE in the same minute. And the assembly will lose a lot if Russia does not hold its seat in the organization,” Pushkov said.
In February, the Ukrainian parliament backed by far-right movements ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, amended the constitution and scheduled an early presidential election for May 25.
Moscow has described the uprising in Kiev as an illegitimate fascist coup and a military seizure of power, which resulted in it taking steps to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine, including the reunification of Crimea. It blames the ongoing crisis in the country on Ukrainian nationalists and their aggressive rhetoric.
Moscow has insisted that a federal form of government is the only way out of the protracted political stalemate in Ukraine, currently a unitary state which is de-facto split into a Ukrainian-speaking west and a Russian-speaking east and south.