The chairman of the Latvian Saeima’s Foreign Affairs Commitee delivered a damning verdict January 28 on the election of a Russian politician to a senior position at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Writing on Twitter, Rihards Kols (National Alliance) branded the elevation of Piotr Tolstoy to the role of Vice President of PACE “an absolute disgrace” and “truly shameful” given the latter’s record as a propagandist for Kremlin-backed media and anti-Semitic comments he made in 2017.
On January 27 PACE held a vote by secret ballot on the election of the candidate proposed by the Russian delegation, Piotr Tolstoy. However, Tolstoy did not obtain an absolute majority of the representatives of the Assembly, so a second round of voting was held January 28.
While it is not revealed who voted, it is clear from the partial results published that a large number of PACE mambers bottled out of making a decision at all.
321 members of the assembly were present, of which number only 252 took part in the vote, which resulted in 3 spoiled ballot papers, 132 votes in favor of Tolstoy, and 117 votes against him.
“In the second round of voting Tolstoy did obtain an absolute majority of the votes cast, with more than half the number of representatives having voted. He is therefore elected as a Vice-President of the Assembly,” PACE announced.
Twenty Vice-Presidents are elected annually at the beginning of an ordinary session and remain in office until the opening of the next session. The number of Vice-Presidents has been increased on several occasions as the number of member States has grown.
In an apparent move to quickly distance himself from his earlier comments – comprehensively reported by independent Russian news outlet Meduza – Tolstoy on January 29 immediately became a signatory of a motion for a resolution titled “Condemnation of antisemitism and of the goals of the BDS Movement.”