Inter-parliamentary activities

Overview of international activities of the Council of the Federation in 2016

In accordance with the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, the Council of the Federation, within its powers, is working to provide legislative support for the foreign policy of the country and fulfil international obligations of the Russian Federation, and also to enhance the effectiveness of parliamentary diplomacy.

Special aspects of today's conditions for the implementation of parliamentary diplomacy result from the fact that the modern world is undergoing a period of profound changes, the essence of which is in the formation of a polycentric international system.

New cross-border challenges and threats are growing in scale, nature and geography including the spread of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, uncontrolled arms trafficking, illegal migration, human trafficking, illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, corruption, maritime piracy, cyber-crimes, global poverty, climate change, and threats for food, ecological and sanitary and epidemiological safety.

The global terrorist threat became game-changing with the coming out of the international terrorist organization Islamic State, and similar associations that brought violence to an unprecedented level of cruelty.

Global challenges and threats require an adequate comprehensive response from the international community, consolidation of its efforts under the coordinating role of the United Nations and taking into account the objective interrelationship between human rights protection, security and sustainable development issues.

An integral part of the system to counter new challenges and threats was the use of mechanisms of civil society and so-called „soft power“. In this context, the role of parliamentary diplomacy continued to grow.

The international activity of the Council of the Federation, like the entire Russian foreign policy, is based on universal principles of justice, respect and trust. These principles are the very basis determining our approaches to the most acute problems of the today's world. At the same time, the key importance is attached to the central coordinating role of the UN and interaction, including inter-parliamentary, with partners within the G20, BRICS, SCO, RIC, as well as within other organizations and dialogue platforms.

Inter-parliamentary cooperation is based on Russia's key task of deepening and expanding integration within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which is able to play an important role in harmonizing the integration processes in the European and Eurasian regions.

Development of bilateral and multilateral cooperation with the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and further strengthening of integration structures operating in CIS with Russian participation still remains one of top-priority directions of Russian foreign policy and parliamentary diplomacy.

The principles and concepts listed above determined the substantial part of the inter-parliamentary cooperation of the Council of the Federation in 2016.

Development of bilateral and multilateral cooperation with parliaments of the states-participants of the EAEU and the Commonwealth of Independent States was carried out as one of the most crucial tasks.

Important foreign policy events in the CIS in which participated the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko in 2016 were: official visits of the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation to the Republic of Kazakhstan (May 10–12, Astana, Uralsk); to the Republic of Tajikistan (October 12–13, Dushanbe) for participation in the 5th Inter-Parliamentary Forum „Russia-Tajikistan: Potential for Inter-Regional Cooperation“; to the Republic of Belarus for participation in the meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Union State (February 25) and the Third Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions (June 7–8).

During the visits, bilateral meetings of the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation with heads of states, governments and chairmen of chambers of the parliaments of the mentioned countries were held.

On the sidelines of the 44th (May 19–20) and 45th (November 24–25) sessions of the IPA CIS in St. Petersburg, Valentina Matvienko met with the Speaker of the Majlisi Namoyandagon of the Majlisi Oli of the Republic of Tajikistan Shukurjon Zukhurov, Speaker of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kasym-Zhomart Tokaev, Speaker of the Council of Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus Mikhail Myasnikovitch, Speaker of the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic Chynybai Tursunbekov, Speaker of the Milli Mejlis of the Azerbaijan Republic Oktay Asadov and Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia Hermine Naghdalyan. The events that took place in St. Petersburg became a platform for contacts between heads of parliaments of the EAEU member states with the participation of Chairperson of the Council of the Federation, Chairperson of the Council of the IPA CIS Valentina Matvienko and State Duma Speaker, PA CSTO Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, to discuss ways for further strengthening of the inter-parliamentary cooperation and development of model legislation.

Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko spoke out at the plenary session of the Fourth International Forum „Eurasian Economic Perspective“ (May 19, St. Petersburg).

In 2016, parliamentary delegations from a number of CIS countries headed by heads of parliaments visited the Russian Federation, in particular, on working issues.

On April 19, the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko met with the Speaker of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kasym-Zhomart Tokaev in Moscow.

On June 1–5, the delegation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia led by Deputy Chairman of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia Hermine Naghdalyan came on a working visit to the Russian Federation.

The delegation of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan headed by the Chairperson of the Mejlis A. Nurberdiyeva paid an official visit to Russia on June 8–11 at the invitation of the Council of the Federation.

On February 19, the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko received a delegation from the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic headed by Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic Vadim Krasnoselsky and had a conversation with them.

On March 10, the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko had a conversation with the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Russia Marat Tazhin.

A delegation from the Majlisi Milli of the Majlisi Oli of the Republic of Tajikistan headed by the First Deputy Chairman of the Chamber Abdurahmon Kodiri paid a working visit to the Russian Federation on July 4–7 to attend the meeting of the Cooperation Commission of the Council of the Federation and the Majlisi Milli of the Majlisi Oli of the Republic of Tajikistan.

On November 24–25, a delegation from the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan Sergei Gromov was on a working visit in the Russian Federation (St. Petersburg) with the purpose of participation in the 9th session of the Cooperation Commission.

On February 1, the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Ilyas Umakhanov received a visit from the Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to the Russian Federation Dumitru Braghis.

On September 19 in the Council of the Federation and on November 18–20 in Yerevan, the Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachev met with Chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia Artak Zakaryan.

In the context of the tasks related to legislative support of integration processes within the Union State and the CIS and development of inter-parliamentary cooperation with the region's countries, both in bilateral and multilateral format, members of the Council of the Federation participated in the activities of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia (session of the Union of Belarus and Russia PA and sessions of standing commissions held according to the PA work plan).

On February 18–20, the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov participated in the extended session of the Scientific Advisory Council held in Minsk on the topic of „Unification and Harmonization of Regulatory Legal Support in the EAEU: Current Situation, Goals and Tasks“.

Among the IPA CIS events attended by members of the Council of the Federation in 2016 are the following: sessions of the IPA CIS standing commissions (March–April, October–November, St. Petersburg), a workshop for international observers of elections to public bodies and holding referendums, sessions of the Young CIS Parliamentarians Assembly (May 19–20 and October 25–26, Saint-Petersburg), meetings of the IPA CIS Expert Councils, parliamentary hearings „The Quality of Education in the Overall CIS Educational Environment“ (April 14–15, St. Petersburg), meetings of working groups on preparation of draft conventions, model codes and laws (during the year, St. Petersburg).

In today's environment, when the threats of escalation of armed conflicts, international terrorism, escalation of weapons of mass destruction come through and force factors become dominant in international politics, special role is assigned to the activities of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The aim of the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly is to ensure better coordination of the efforts of the member states related to defence and military construction, to expand the Organization's capabilities of forming and developing the collective security system, and to facilitate the CSTO adaptation to the changing political environment. A delegation of the Council of the Federation headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Yury Vorobiev took part in the CSTO Commission on Social and Economic Issues on March 3 in St. Petersburg and on March 10–12 in Yerevan it participated in the PA CSTO Council field session and in 
PA CSTO activities conducted on November 22–24, 2016 in St. Petersburg, during which Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, was unanimously elected Chairman of the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly.

On October 5–8, the Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Defence and Security Viktor Ozerov and member of the Council of the Federation Committee on Defence and Security Alexey Kondratyev took part in a joint field session of the Coordination Meeting of Chairmen of Committees (Commissions) on Defence and Security of the CSTO member Parliaments at the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly Council and in a session of the PA CSTO Permanent Commission on Defence and Security Issues.

On April 14–16, a delegation of the Council of the Federation Committee on Defence and Security headed by the First Deputy Chairman of the Committee Alexander Chekalin visited the Republic of Armenia for participating in a joint session with the Standing Committee of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia on Defence, National Security and Internal Affairs. The main issue of the session was the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The International Conference „Religions Against Terrorism“ held on May 31 in Astana was attended by a delegation of the Council of the Federation headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Ilyas Umakhanov.

Activities of inter-parliamentary cooperation commissions are one of the effective forms of inter-parliamentary interaction with the CIS countries. During the reporting period, members of the Council of the Federation participated in the sessions of the Commission on Cooperation between the Council of the Federation and the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan (May 10, Astana and November 25, St. Petersburg), the Inter-Parliamentary Committee on Cooperation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the National Assembly the Republic of Armenia (June 2–4, Kazan and November 10, Yerevan), the Inter-Parliamentary Commission of the National Assembly of the Republic and the Council of the Council of the Federation of the Republic of Belarus on Interregional Cooperation (June 7, Minsk), Commission on Cooperation between the Council of the Federation and the Majlisi Milli of the Majlisi Oli of the Republic of Tajikistan (July 5, Moscow).

An important part of inter-parliamentary cooperation of the Council of the Federation is assisting the constituent entities of the Russian Federation to maintain inter-regional and cross-border interaction. This work was undoubtedly supported by the Third Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions (June 7–8, Minsk), the Fifth Russian-Kyrgyz Inter-Regional Conference (June 1–2, Ufa), the 7th Inter-Regional Forum „Russia-Azerbaijan: Growth Areas“ (November 1, Baku), the Fifth Inter-Regional Forum „Russia — Armenia“ (October 14, Yerevan).

On March 3, a meeting of the Russian section of the Organizing Committee for Preparation of the Third Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions was held in Moscow, and on April 13 a delegation of the Council of the Federation took part in the meeting of the Joint Organizing Committee for Preparation of the Third Forum of Russian and Belarusian Regions which was held in Minsk.

A delegation of the Council of the Federation headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Chamber Evgeny Bushmin participated in the 8th International Economic Summit „Russia – Islamic World: KazanSummit“ (May 19–21, Kazan).

Member of the Council of the Federation Arnold Tulokhonov represented the Council of the Federation at the Astana Economic Forum (May 26).

At the Second Global Forum „Against the Crime of Genocide“ (April 23, Yerevan), the Chamber was represented by members of the Council of the Federation Igor Chernyshenko and Rafail Zinurov.

Member of the Council of the Federation Committee on Economic Policy Dmitry Mezentsev participated in a session of the 13th Eurasian Media Forum on the topic of „The Present and the Future of the World Economy. Who is in the Lead? Global Crisis. World without Oil – World without War?“ (April 21, Astana).

Anatoly Lisitsyn, member of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs, participated in the International Forum „Eurasian Economic Perspective“ (April 8, Bishkek).

Member of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs Igor Morozov took part in the activities of the Socio-Political Forum „Gagauzia-2016. Consistency of Autonomy“ (February 2, Comrat, Moldova).

On August 18–20, member of the Council of the Federation Committee on Science, Education and Culture Andrey Sobolev participated in the International Forum of Donbass (Ukraine).

On September 22–26, member of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs Anatoly Lisitsyn took part in a regional conference of Russian compatriots of neighbouring countries which was held in Dushanbe.

On September 28–30, the 6th Baku International Humanitarian Forum was held in Azerbaijan in which members of the Council of the Federation Liliya Gumerova and Elena Bibikova took part.

Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Committee on Science, Education, Culture and Information Policy Zinaida Dragunkina participated in the Conference of the Women's Council of the Republican Party of Armenia on November 5 in Yerevan.

During the spring and autumn sessions, delegations of the Council of the Federation participated in monitoring missions on conduct of early parliamentary elections on March 20 in the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Evgeny Serebrennikov, Stepan Kirichuk, Liudmila Kozlova, Igor Martynov , Igor Morozov), the referendum on introduction of amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Tajikistan held on May 22
(Bair Zhamsuev, Rafail Zinurov, Oleg Tsepkin), the elections for the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus held on September 11 (Stepan Kirichuk, Frants Klintsevich, Liudmila Kozlova,
Elena Perminova, Mikhail Shchetinin, Sergey Shcheblygin), the referendum on amendment of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic held on September 26
(Ilyas Umakhanov, Dmitry Azarov, Andrey Klishas), the elections of the President of the Republic of Moldova held on October 30 (Rafail Zinurov, Victor Pavlenko, Leonid Tyagachev), the second round of elections of the President of the Republic of Moldova held on November 13 (Viktor Pavlenko, Leonid Tyagachev), the referendum on amendment of the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic held on December 11 (Bair Zhamsuev, Liudmila Kozlova, Anatoly Lisitsyn), the elections of the President of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic held on December 11 (Viktor Abramov, Viktor Kondrashin, Olga Timofeeva).

A delegation of the Council of the Federation headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Ilyas Umahanov participated in the monitoring of the elections of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on December 4.

A group of international observers from the IPA CIS (Deputy Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs, Defence and Security of the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic Almazbek Baatyrbekov as coordinator) took part in the monitoring of the elections for the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation conducted on September 18.

Interaction with the parliaments of Abkhazia and South Ossetia continued.

On November 13–16, a delegation of the Council of the Federation (Alexey Kondratiev, Sergey Tsekov, Mikhail Kozlov) participated in the Russia-Abkhazia Inter-Regional Forum held in Sokhumi (Abkhazia), and also visited the units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation deployed there.

On December 11–13, a delegation of the Parliament of the Republic of South Ossetia led by the Chairman of the Parliament Anatoly Bibilov arrived on a working visit to Moscow at the invitation of the Council of the Federation and took part in a session of the Bilateral Cooperation Commission. The previous session was held on April 10 in Tskhinval, South Ossetia.

Bilateral cooperation with foreign parliaments was carried out in accordance with the Plan of Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation of the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation for 2016 approved by the Council of the Chamber.

Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko paid
9 official visits in 2016: to the State of Palestine (February 2), the State of Israel (February 2–4), Malaysia (March 14–16), the Republic of Singapore (March 16–18), the Sultanate of Oman (April 11–12), United Arab Emirates (April 12–14), the Swiss Confederation (October 19–21), Japan (October 31 –November 3), and to the Islamic Republic of Iran (November 13–14).

During the visits, Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko participated in bilateral meetings with the leaders of the mentioned states and chairmen of the chambers of parliaments.

For the said period, Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko paid 4 working visits abroad: to the People's Republic of China (September 7–10), to the French Republic to participate in the European Conference of Presidents of Parliament (September 14–16), the State of Israel (on behalf of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin) to participate in the ceremony to mourn Shimon Peres (September 20 – September 29), to the United Arab Emirates to participate in the 11th Global Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament (December 11–13, Abu Dhabi).

First Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Nikolay Fedorov paid working visits to Angola (January 20–22), Indonesia (February 12–16), Cambodia (February 16–18), Uruguay (October 30 – November 2), Paraguay (November 2–6), Chile (November 6–8).

Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Ilyas Umakhanov paid a visit to Mozambique (February 17–19).

A delegation of the Council of the Federation headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Ilyas Umakhanov took part in the second session of the Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Commission of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the National People's Congress of China (Beijing, May 4–6).

Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Galina Karelova paid a working visit to Austria (May 2–3).

A delegation of the Council of the Federation consisting of the Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachev, Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Defence and Security Viktor Ozerov, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Economic Policy Alexey Mayorov participated in the Trilateral Inter-Parliamentary Meeting „Joint Search for Solutions in Response to Emerging International Challenges“ attended by parliamentarians of Russia, the USA, and Germany, that was held in Berlin (May 1–3).

Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachev participated in the Munich Security Conference in Munich (February 12–14) as a member of the official delegation headed by Prime Minister the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev.

Representatives of Council of the Federation committees paid 11 visits to foreign countries: Delegations of the Council of Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs made working visits to Luxembourg (June 2–4), Italy (July 4–6), Austria (December 18–20); delegations of the Council of Federation Committee on Defence and Security visited Namibia (February 14–20) and Syria (October 13–15); the Council of the Federation Budget and Financial Markets Committee sent its delegation to China (April 4–9), the Council of the Federation Committee on the House Rules and Parliamentary Performance Management – to Jordan (April 12–14); the Council of the Federation Committee on Agrarian and Food Policy and Environmental Management – to India (May 10–15); the Council of the Federation Committee on Social Policy – to Finland (May 29 – June 1); the Council of the Federation Committee on the Federal Structure, Regional Policies, Local Self-Governance and Affairs of the North – to Argentina (November 6–11); the Council of the Federation Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State-Building – to Thailand and Singapore (November 29 – December 4).

Cooperation groups of the Council of the Federation paid two foreign visits: the one with the Senate of the French Republic to France (March 8–11) and that with the Council of States of the Federal Assembly of the Swiss Confederation – to Switzerland (October 19–21).

During the visit to France, a joint „round table“ was held with the aim to discuss the information report of the Commission of the French Senate on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces „Relations with Russia: Searching for a Way Out of the Political Gridlock“. In response and for the first time in the practice of inter-parliamentary relations, a Russian report on the topic of „Russia – France: A Parliamentary Look into the Future“ which was presented on September 6, 2016 in the Council of the Federation.

Efforts aimed at strengthening legal framework for bilateral parliamentary cooperation continued. 7 documents were signed: the Protocol of Cooperation between the Council of the Federation and the National Assembly of the Republic of Angola, the Agreement on Promoting Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation between the Council of the Federation and the Knesset of the State of Israel, the Protocol of Development of Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation between the Council of the Federation and the Assembly of the Republic of Mozambique, the Agreement between the Council of the Federation and the Senate of the Kingdom of Cambodia on Enhancing Inter-Parliamentary Co-operation, the Agreement on Cooperation between the Council of the Federation and the Senate of the General Assembly of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of the Federation and the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji on enhancing inter-parliamentary cooperation, the Agreement on Promoting Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation between the Council of the Federation and the Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates.

At the invitation of the Council of the Federation, 11 foreign parliamentary delegations paid official visits to the Russian Federation: those of the National Assembly of the Republic of Ecuador headed by President Gabriela Rivadeneira (March 29 – April 1); of the Senate of the National Congress of the Republic of Paraguay headed by Chairman Mario Abdo Benitez (April 16–24); of the Senate of the National Assembly of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan headed by its Speaker Faisal Akef El-Fayez (May 26–31); of the Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates headed by President Amal Al Qubaisi (June 1–4); of the General Assembly of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay headed by the Vice-President of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, Chairman of the General Assembly and Senate Raul Sendic (June 13–18); of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kenya headed by its Speaker David Ekwee Ethuro (June 18–25); of the Senate of the Parliament of the Kingdom of Belgium headed by President Christine Defraigne (June 22–25), of the Senate of the Malaysian Parliament, headed by its President SA.Vigneswaran (September 21–24), of the National Council of Provinces of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa headed by its Chairperson Thandi Modise (September 25–30), of the Legislative Council of the State of Brunei Darussalam headed by its Speaker, Abdul Rahman Bin Taib (October 10–14), of the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji headed by its Speaker Jiko Luveni (October 11–14).

A delegation of the Senate of the French Republic headed by President of the Senate of the French Republic Gerard Larcher (April 3–5) paid a working visit to Russia at the invitation of the Council of the Federation.

As for the activities of cooperation committees and groups, 8 visits were paid to Russia by: the delegation of the Switzerland – Russia Friendship Group of the Federal Assembly of the Swiss Confederation (May 1–6); the delegation of the Commission on Foreign Relations of the Chamber of Senators of the General Congress of the United Mexican States (June); the delegation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Senate of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (July); the delegation of Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) of the People's Republic of China (October); the delegation of the Office of Legal Affairs of the Standing Committee of the NPC of the PRC (October); the delegation of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Knesset of the State of Israel (November); the delegation of the Law Committee of NPC of the PRC (November).

Against the continuing sanctioning pressure of the West, active work in the form of multilateral cooperation in international parliamentary organizations and forums was of major importance among other Council of the Federation activities.

A delegation of the Council of the Federation headed by the Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs Konstantin Kosachev took part in the 24th annual session of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) which was held in Vancouver, Canada, on January 17–21. Members of the delegation spoke out on all the key items on the agenda, held bilateral meetings and consultations with foreign delegations, took an active part in the work of the drafting committee and working groups.

The three most important Forum's resolutions on the issues of politics and security in the Asia-Pacific, counter-terrorism, economy and trade in the Asia-Pacific were taken as a basis and adopted as part of Russian projects.

During the discussion on the draft resolutions on the situation on the Korean peninsula and the Middle East settlement, our representatives succeeded to reject provisions that would be unacceptable for us. They also achieved the objective of raising the issue of inadmissibility of using sanctions against parliamentarians at the Forum.

A delegation of the Council of the Federation headed by the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov took part in the winter session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (Vienna, Austria, February 25–26) in which the participants had heated discussions about the situation in the Ukraine and Syria and considered the issues of counter-terrorism and overcoming the migration crisis.

On July 1–5, the 25th annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly was held in Tbilisi (Georgia) on the topic of „25 years of Parliamentary Cooperation: Building Trust through Dialogue“. Members of the delegation of the Council of the Federation headed by the Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Committee on Social Policy Liudmila Kozlova actively proposed amendments to the OSCE PA draft resolutions. At the elections of the President of the OSCE PA, Christine Muttonen (Austria), who was supported by the Russian parliamentary delegation, was elected in a secret ballot from three candidates.

A delegation of the Council of the Federation headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Foreign Affairs
Andrey Klimov took part in the autumn session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly that was held in Skopje (Macedonia) on September 28 – October 3 on the topic of „Strengthening Confidence-Building Measures and Good Governance in the OSCE Region“. Members of the delegation presented to the session participants the Russian position on the issues of uniting the efforts of the OSCE member-states in the fight against international terrorism, problems associated with migration crisis in Europe, ways of finding political solutions for settling the ongoing conflicts.

On March 18–23, 2016, the 134th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) was held in Lusaka; the Russian delegation was headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Ilyas Umakhanov.

On the eve of the Assembly, the annual IPU Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians was held on March 16–17 in which Aleksander Borisov, Coordinator of the Chamber of Young Legislators at the Council of the Federation, took part. Issues of youth policy were reflected in the subject of the general discussion of the 134th IPU Assembly – „Rejuvenating democracy, giving voice to youth“.

The agenda of the Assembly also included the following topics: „ Terrorism: The need to enhance global cooperation against the threat to democracy and human rights“ and „Ensuring lasting protection against destruction and deterioration for the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of humanity“. Our representatives actively worked upon the drafts of the respective resolutions and succeeded in ensuring that the most fundamental amendments for Russia be included into final versions of those documents.

A serious achievement of the Russian delegation was the resolution of the Standing Committee on Peace and International Security to adopt the Russian proposal of the topic for the report and the resolution: „The role of parliament in preventing outside interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States“. Konstantin Kosachev and Koukouma Koutra Skevi, a member of the Parliament of the Republic of Cyprus, were approved co-rapporteurs. The report and resolution were adopted at the 136th IPU Assembly in Dhaka (Bangladesh) in the spring of 2017.

Members of the Russian delegation together with the delegation of Belarus also represented the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly at the Assembly. The IPU Governing Council passed a resolution on upgrading the IPA CIS status from observer to associate member. IPA CIS became the eleventh associated member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

During the 134th Assembly, Konstantin Kosachev started his work as a member of the IPU Executive Committee representing the Eurasia geopolitical group and was elected Vice President of the IPU for one year with the right to extend his powers for another two years.

President and members of the IPU Executive Committee publicly supported the proposal of the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko to hold the 137th Assembly in Russia in the autumn of 2017.

Following the agreements reached at the 134th IPU Assembly, the IPU President Saber Chowdhury visited Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg) on 
May 18–20. During the visit, the IPU President spoke at the Council of the Federation plenary session, the IPA CIS Council and IPA CIS sessions, held meetings with the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko, State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin, State Secretary, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Grigoriy Karasin, Governor of St.Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko, Chairman of the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly Vyacheslav Makarov.

Meetings of the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko with OSCE PA President Ilkka Kanerva, PACE President Pedro Agramunt, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Speaker of the Parliament of Bangladesh Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, and Director General of the International Organization for Migration William Lacy Swing on the sidelines of the 44th plenary session of the IPA CIS held on May 19–20 in St. Petersburg were essential for the development of international cooperation. On November 30 in Moscow Valentina Matvienko met with Christine Muttonen who took over Ilkka Kanerva as President of the OSCE PA.

In May and July, the Inter-Parliamentary Union assessment mission paid two visits to St. Petersburg and Moscow and thoroughly acquainted itself with the conditions for holding the 137th IPU Assembly in St. Petersburg in the autumn of 2017 and received answers to the organizational and technical questions raised.

A delegation of the Council of the Federation headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Ilyas Umakhanov took part in the 135th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) held in Geneva on October 23–27 where Ilyas Umakhanov was nominated IPU co-rapporteur on the topic of “Sharing our diversity: The 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Democracy„.

On the sidelines of the IPU Assembly, numerous bilateral meetings were held. Participation of the Russian delegation (Ilyas Umakhanov, Konstantin Kosachev) in the Meeting of Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of Parliaments of the BRICS countries on October 23 arranged by the Indian delegation (India chaired the BRICS in 2016) was of particular importance.

On October 27, a meeting of the Governing Council of the IPU took place, at which the issue of approving St. Petersburg for the venue for the 137th IPU Assembly to be held in October 2017 was considered. At the request of the Ukrainian delegation to re-consider the candidacy of St. Petersburg, an open voting was held in the result of which St. Petersburg was elected by an overwhelming majority of votes.

At the end of voting, the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko signed the Agreement between the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on arrangement and holding of the 137th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and related events in St. Petersburg with the IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong.

In parallel with the IPU Assemblies held in Lusaka and Geneva, sessions of the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments were conducted in which Secretary General of the Council of the Federation Sergey Martynov took part. Those meetings were characterized by meaningful discussions and useful exchange of experience related to the organization of parliament work.

Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State-Building Andrey Klishas participated as lead speaker in the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council (Geneva, Switzerland, March 1). A joint statement of an affinity group (20 states) on the issue of convergence of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was drafted and agreed upon. In order to clarify Russia's position, Andrey Klishas also participated in two meetings of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission of the Council of Europe) in March and June 2016 which is drafting expert opinions on Russian legislation.

In conditions of suspended work of the Russian parliamentary delegation to the PACE, activities in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (Congress) and the use of the rostrum of this pan-European forum for an open and constructive dialogue with representatives of regional authorities and local governments of European countries gained importance.

At the 30th Congress session (Strasbourg, France, March 21–24), members of the Council of the Federation Zinaida Dragunkina, Aleksander Borisov, Sergey Lisovsky, Arkady Chernetsky and Igor Shubin actively spoke on practically all the issues on the agenda in plenary sessions, meetings of committees and political groups of the Congress, met with delegations and individual members of Congress from most of the countries participating in the session. A vivid event of the session was the presentation of the historical and cultural heritage of the Vladimir region made in the context of the 20th anniversary of Russia's participation in the activities of the Council of Europe. That was the first Russian presentation held in the Council of Europe after the Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March 2014. It aroused genuine, lively interest of the majority of session participants.

On the sidelines of the 30thCongress session, Zinaida Dragunkina met with Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni who showed a lively, positive response and support towards the activities of the Council of the Federation aimed at protecting the interests of women and children, including the development of the National Women’s Strategy developed at the initiative of the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko.

The Russian delegation, renewed for the forthcoming four-year period and represented by the Council of the Federation members Dmitry Azarov, Zinaida Dragunkina, Svetlana Goryacheva and Elena Perminova, participated in the 31st Congress session (Strasbourg, France, October 18–21). First Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Committee on the House Rules and Parliamentary Performance Management Svetlana Goryacheva was elected Deputy Chairperson of the Congress Socialist Group.

The session focused on prevention of corruption and promotion of ethical standards at the local and regional levels, abuse of administrative resources during election campaigns, implementation of the Strategy to Combat Radicalisation at Grassroots Level, and the priorities of the Congress. A debate on the topic of „Social Rights in Europe: Implementation of the European Social Charter at Regional Level“ was conducted at which the experience of Russian regions was highly appreciated.

The work of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) was carried out on the basis of the priorities of the Russian chairmanship in this inter-parliamentary organization in the first half of 2016 such as counter-terrorism and settlement of migration crisis. During the meetings of the PABSEC committees on economic, trade, technological and environmental issues (Yerevan, March 16–17), on culture, education and social issues (Istanbul, May 11), on legal and political issues (Athens, May 23–24), the economic, social and political aspects of the refugee problem in the BSEC member- states were examined in detail.

Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Ludmila Bokova participated in the meetings of the PABSEC committees in Antalya (Turkey) on October 5–6 and in Bucharest (Romania) on October 25.

Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Evgeny Bushmin took part in the 15th and 16th sessions of the Russian Economic and Financial Forum in Switzerland (Geneva, March 12 and Bern, October 20).

A delegation of the Council of the Federation led by the Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Defence and Security Bair Zhamsuev took part in 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting (before the ASEM Summit) (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, April 20–24). The main topics of the conference were „Connectivity and Effective Multilateralism“ and „Partnership for the Future“. The Russian parliamentarians re-affirmed Russia's commitment to strengthening mutually beneficial ties and developing practical cooperation between Asian and European states while maintaining the informal status of the ASEM. At the same time, special attention was paid to the need for creation of security architecture in Eurasia that would guarantee the equal nature of cooperation and genuine harmony of interests while not interfering in each other's internal affairs. The final declaration of the conference was presented to the heads of state and government at the 11th ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar on July 15–16.

At the annual meeting of the Women in Parliaments Global Forum (Amman, Jordan, May 4–6), held under the slogan “Women in Politics: Fast Forward„, the Council of the Federation member Irina Gekht headed the Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction operating within the framework of the Forum.

On February 16–17 in Brussels, the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on Economic Policy Alexey Mayorov took part in the 35th session of the Steering Committee of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO and the joint meeting of this committee and the European Parliament Committee on International Trade and took the initiative to discuss the topic „The Danger of Unbalancing the World Trade System by Creating Exclusive Economic Associations By-Passing the WTO Principles“. Alexey Mayorov succeeded to ensure that the proposed topic be put on the agenda of the session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO (Geneva, June 13–14) during which he participated in a discussion with the WTO leadership. Alexey Mayorov also took part in the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO in Geneva on September 28 that helped strengthen ties with parliamentarians of the countries whose positions on world trade issues were appreciated by Russia.

On July 4–8 in Thessaloniki (Greece), a delegation of the Council of the Federation took part in the work of the 23rd General Assembly of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (I.A.O.) on the topic of „Fundamental global changes – Christian Orthodox perspective ‘. As a result, a joint resolution was passed in which the I.A.O. stated that strong Europe is our common cause and calls upon the peoples in response to today's crisis to strengthen their spiritual unity, to demonstrate their resolve in the fight against discrimination and all forms of violence, including the religious one. Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Federation Committee on the House Rules and Parliamentary Performance Management Sergey Popov (who was a member of the State Duma's Defence Committee at the time of the General Assembly), who headed the I.A.O. since 2004, was re-elected President of the I.A.O. On December 8–10 in Athens, Sergey Popov took part in the meeting of the International Secretariat and Committee Chairpersons and Rapporteurs of the I.A.O. Reports on activities of the Assembly in 2016 were heard and plans for 2017 were discussed. I.A.O. members met with pope Tawadros of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

A delegation of the Council of the Federation took part in the 9th plenary session of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) held on November 27 – December 1 in Siem Reap (Cambodia).

During the session on the topic of „Promoting Peace and Sustainable Development in Asia“, issues of counter-terrorism, parliamentary cooperation aimed at the achievement of the goals of sustainable development, effective cooperation in combating illicit drug trafficking, legal and legislative cooperation aimed at countering the smuggling of cultural heritage sites in Asia were raised. The participants also discussed the issues of ensuring the economic growth of Asian countries, promotion of inter-religious dialogue in Asia, integration of the Asian region through information and communication technologies, and environmental problems. Bilateral meetings were held with the representatives of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Indonesia, Iran, Cambodia, Kyrgyzia, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, during which the participants confirmed the readiness for further coordinating our positions on key issues of APA functioning.

***

In 2016, the Council of the Federation prepared and conducted 123 meetings with leaders and members of foreign parliaments and international parliamentary organizations, influential politicians of foreign states, leaders of foreign political, public and religious organizations, and ambassadors of foreign states.

Members of the Council of the Federation made 168 visits to 65 countries of the world (including the visits of delegations headed by the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation), including 99 visits within the framework of bilateral cooperation and 69 visits related to activities of international parliamentary organizations. 47 visits were made to the CIS countries, 63 visits to European states, 22 visits to the states of Asia, 8 visits to Africa, 18 visits to the Middle East, 6 visits to Latin America, and visits to North America.

128 members of the Council of the Federation took part in visits to foreign countries.