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  Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the Council of Europe summit scheduled for May 16-17 in Warsaw
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the Council of Europe summit scheduled for May 16-17 in Warsaw, sending instead Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to Chairman of the Duma (parliament's lower house) International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev, who cited Moscow's disaffection with the council over criticism of the Yukos affair, Gazeta, a daily, reported. Notwithstanding Russia's protests, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at its January session approved a resolution critical toward Moscow over the Yukos trial, describing the case against Yukos ex-CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky as biased and politically motivated. "We hoped that the Yukos case would be the basis for some recommendations on improvements to Russia's effective legislation. In fact, what we saw in the text of the resolution is a sign of a politicized and non-constructive approach to this case, which is what we criticize the Council of Europe for," Kosachev said. Denmark, France, and Britain, Kosachev said, would also send foreign ministers to the summit, which he described as a healthy pragmatic assessment of the council's role in today's politics. The organization has dropped all issues except for democracy and human rights, he said. Mark Urnov, chairman of the Russian Ekspertiza foundation, disagrees. He said Putin's absence at the summit would only be negative for Russia. Moscow is not ready for an open discussion on Yukos, he said, and Europeans plan to use the subject to step up broader criticism of Russia for the violation of human rights and democratic freedoms. To begin an "honest talk" with Europe, Urnov said, would be much better than to openly avoid discussion. By not going to Warsaw, Putin is hinting that the Khodorkovsky trial will end unfavorably for the dethroned oligarch and Lavrov, not Putin, will have to face the music, Urnov said
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