Olena Sotnyk, a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, notes that the “Russian” problem in PACE is not about money, but about a powerful lobby.
“In the PACE secretariat, there are many people who came from Russia or used to have Russian citizenship. Russia is playing a very intricate game in terms of lobbying its interests. They have their representatives in very many international organizations. And these people, even if they are trying to be neutral, sooner or later, regardless of whether they want to so or not, start defending the interests of Russia.”
Even now many European deputies say that 33 million euros (Russia’s contribution) is not such a large amount. Ukraine has already paid an additional 450,000 euros, Ireland has paid the extra money and other countries are willing to pay additional fees to cover the organization’s deficit. Money is not such a big problem. Whereas the Russian lobby is
Olena Sotnyk says, “There is a very strong Russian lobby. Even the Secretary general is actively promoting the idea of the return of the Russian delegation. And this lobby is hard to fight with, but we are doing our best.”
We shall note that during this session, the PACE is going to consider a proposal to change the organization’s regulations in order to make the imposing of sanctions on the delegations of the member states as difficult as possible. In fact, this will mean the return of the Russian delegation to PACE.
The debates on the Russian issue are scheduled on October 10. There are no forecasts yet.
It is also unclear what the Ukrainian delegation will do if Russia returns to PACE. However, Olena Sotnyk insists there should be no demarche of Kyiv.
“I believe that we must not be afraid of Russia. We must remain in all possible organizations. I work in the Parliamentary Union, where Moscow has a very strong position, but this does not prevent me from reminding in my speeches that Russia is the aggressor, that they have blood on their hands, that they have started the war against Ukraine. And this is a strong position of the Ukrainian state. We will not let Russia have its propaganda everywhere.”
However, Olena Sotnyk believes the PACE should decide what it needs: another country that ignores the rules or a strong organization?