The State Duma has passed a motion suggesting that the US and EU extend the freshly introduced sanctions to all Russian MPs rather than a limited group of officials, defying western pressure just hours before Russia and Crimea signed a federation treaty.
The motion was supported by a unanimous vote on Tuesday morning. It was prepared the day before by all four parliamentary parties after representatives of the United States and the European Union said they were slapping sanctions, such as visa bans and asset freezes, on a number of Russian officials who are seen as “key ideologists and architects” of the policy towards Ukraine.
The State Duma motion reads that the US President’s decree was limiting the rights of Russian citizens and that similar discriminatory measures were approved by foreign ministers of the EU nations.
In a speech MP Mikhail Markelov (Fair Russia) called the move by the US State Department, President Obama and the European Union “an absurd attempt”, and suggested that the US punished all lower house members. “As long as they stress that MP Lyudmila Mizulina is on the blacklist, they should also impose sanctions on all 436 MPs who voted for the law that protects our children from gay propaganda,” Markelov noted.
A day earlier, after first reports about the new sanctions the head of the lower house committee for family issues Lyudmila Mizulina said that she was perplexed by her addition to the list. “The decision is puzzling – although we’ve expected sanctions – because I don’t have any accounts or real estate abroad, nor do my family members live abroad…Why was particularly I included?” the lawmaker said in press comments.
Deputy Markelov also said in his Duma speech that Russian politicians cannot be intimidated by Western sanctions as previous examples of their application demonstrate that such measures are hardly effective. “They tried it before in Serbia, Belarus, Syria. But these nations have not lost their dignity, have not lost their identity, they remain united and independent countries,” the deputy said.
“Our position is extremely clear and honest. We never betray our own. We will never betray the Russian-speaking citizens and simply the citizens who live on the territory of Crimea, who have made a decision to be with Russia forever,” Markelov told the parliamentarians.
“As for the sanctions, today any sanctions will only unite our political elite, because our businessmen and the common people have always united before external threats, regardless of their political views,” the MP added.
Commenting on the parliamentary motion an Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said that everyone in Russia was tired of sanctions adding that the western measures only caused irony or even sarcasm. He refused to answer the question if Russia planned any reciprocal steps.
Hours after the State Duma passed the motion President Vladimir Putin, Crimea’s Prime Minister Sergey Aksenov, Chairman of the Crimea nlegislature Vladimir Konstantinov and Sevastopol Mayor Aleksey Chaly signed the federation treaty between the Crimean Republic and Russia. Putin asked the Russian parliament to ratify the treaty making both Crimea and the city of Sevastopol new federation subjects.