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The Russian delegation has returned to the PACE, riding a triumphant propaganda tide, as if they’re winners on a white horse, and to some extent it really was the case. After all, the very heart of Europe, the PACE session hall, was penetrated by representatives of the aggressor state, shedding blood from Ukraine to Libya, from Syria to, in a certain sense, Venezuela. Moreover, the delegation turned out to be a cohort of class A perverts and immoral individuals. But, this, in fact, is where Russia’s winning spree ended.
Of course, the very presence in the PACE of such notorious characters as Pyotr Tolstoy, Leonid Slutsky, Igor Lebedev, and others, is in great dissonance with the spirit of the Assembly, but this cost the Kremlin quite much. Russian taxpayers had to pay a total of around EUR 100 million for the return of the Russian delegation to the Assembly. That’s something like a budget of a city of Saransk. But Russian efforts failed to go beyond the show-off “return”.
Despite Pyotr Tolstoy being elected to one of the leading posts in the PACE, he has so far failed to promote a single Kremlin project in the Assembly. All attempts to legalize the annexation of Crimea were leveled at the very base, as well as granting a legitimate status to representatives of the so-called “DPR” and “LPR”. Similarly, the attempts of the Russian delegation to spark in the PACE a wave of indignation over the “infringement” of Russian speakers’ rights in Ukraine boiled down to nothing.
Meanwhile, the adoption of the PACE resolution, obliging Russia to comply with the Minsk agreements and cease support for the “DPR” and “LPR” terrorist groups, was rather indicative, despite the fact that the Kremlin never recognized itself as a party to the conflict in Donbas. The appendix also contained an obligation to respect human rights, in particular regarding LGBTI communities and not to impede the activities of the European Court of Human Rights.
So was that EUR 100 million really worth it?
When the Kremlin’s perv team was being deployed back in the PACE, it left the impression that it wasn’t just the return of barbarians to the civilized community, but a well-thought-out, tactical, and elaborate move by the Kremlin. Given the dominance of ultra-right, radical, nationalist and populist political groups in the PACE, the return implied a hard and exhausting battle on the field, to which the experienced villain was invited by the victim itself.
Ideally, it’s as if Europe had invited for a visit a monkey, also handing it a hand grenade. A monkey-and-grenade mix is not a good idea — it’s a horrifying and unpredictable combination. But, in fact, it turned out that the grenade is a dummy, while the monkey is playing with it, while locked in a cage.