This morning I wrote that the Russian delegation to the PACE decided to raise the issue of infringement of Russian speakers' rights in Ukraine.
In that piece, I outlined the reasons for Russian propagandists to launch another verse of the "same ol' song". But no less interesting than the aim of such spin on the PACE platform is who's starting it.
To begin with, I should remind you that the composition of the Russian delegation to the PACE approved by the Council of Russia's State Duma is as follows: head of the delegation, Duma Vice-Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy, Duma Vice-Speaker Igor Lebedev (LDPR), Duma deputies Anatoly Aksakov (Fair Russia), Leonid Kalashnikov (Communist Party), Leonid Slutsky (LDPR), Svetlana Zhurova (United Russia), Sergey Pakhomov (United Russia), Elena Serova (United Russia), Irina Rodnina (United Russia), Vladimir Blotsky (Communist Party), and Roman Romanenko (United Russia).
Actually, looking at this Russian political "elite", gathered in the very center of Europe, you really come to understand that their task is by no means improving their country's image in the world arena. Otherwise, Moscow wouldn't have sent notorious propagandists, anti-Semites, perverts, and other inadequate figures to the PACE to carry out this task.
For example, Tolstoy, the delegation chief, who is now starting another demagogical round of the long-debunked story of Russian speakers' rights violations in Ukraine. He is an infamous propagandist, sanctioned by Kyiv, who has distributed troves of disinformation reports both about Ukraine, the EU and the U.S. Moreover, he is also known for his openly Ukrainianophobic and anti-Semitic views. In 2017, he spoke in an extremely aggressive manner about protesters rallying against the transfer of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which sparked outrage among Jewish communities in Russia.
In 2018, his return to Channel One was marked with the premiere of his propaganda show, Tolstoy. Sunday where he attacked the Ukrainian language, which he claims was created artificially and isn't widely spread even in Ukraine. Although, not a single international expert in linguistics will ever agree with such statement – well, that's besides some binge-drinking pseudo-pundits somewhere from Russia's Far North.
Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States, was named by journalist Michael Crowley "the most dangerous diplomat in Washington." Moreover, according to CNN, it was Kislyak who, as a career intelligence officer, oversaw spy work, including vetting potential human assets, their recruitment, and supervision in the United States.
Leonid Slutsky, member of the Liberal Democratic Party and head of the committee on international affairs, came into spotlight amid accusations by female journalists who said he sexually harassed them during interviews at his office. Other reports also mentioned his unstable mental health and systematic traffic violations (he has yet to pay a staggering 825 fines).
Igor Lebedev, son of a notorious and widely sanctioned Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who is banned pretty much from any country perhaps except North Korea, essentially represents the interests of his dad and the latter's puppeteers. Along the way, it is through his son that Zhirinovsky operates the lion's share of his corruption schemes, of which numerous journalistic investigations reported.
It was Igor Lebedev’s guard who assaulted Novaya Gazeta journalists and messed up their gear at Zhirinovsky's birthday party. Moreover, the attacker, Alexander Shparygin, is directly related to the Nazi nationalist movements in Russia.
Cosmonaut Elena Serova was noted for turning out to raise Russia's wealthiest child with a net worth of RUB 2.86 million she claimed the kid earned.
Nikolai Ryzhak behind his back is named "the main raider of the Altai Territory." One can only guess why, right?
In general, there's a long stinky trace of corruption scandals and journalistic investigations behind almost each delegation member. And it would take days to highlight all related stories. Meanwhile, letting these figures, who in no case reflect Europe's moral image, into the PACE session hall is an actual betrayal of the EU ideals.