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2015 07 05 AS Kovalev speakingOSCE parliamentarian Nikolay Kovalev of Russia addresses the Standing Committee, Helsinki, 5 July 2015. (photo courtesy of Hanne Salonen/Parliament of Finland)HELSINKI, 5 July 2015 – The Heads of National Delegations to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly today discussed the decision of the government of Finland to enforce European Union visa bans against several Russian parliamentarians who had registered to participate in the PA’s Annual Session this week in Helsinki.

VIDEO is available here.

The discussion in the Standing Committee, opened by OSCE PA President and Finnish parliamentarian Ilkka Kanerva, included the participation of delegates from 20 OSCE participating States.

Numerous delegates who intervened expressed concern about the impact of the Finnish government’s decision on the Assembly’s ability to conduct dialogue and work on conflict-resolution. Several speakers discussed the considerations that led to the decision and ways in which the situation could have been avoided.

The Finnish government’s decision did not deny entry to the full Russian Delegation to the OSCE PA, but affected several Delegation Members included on the EU sanctions list.

Russian State Duma member and OSCE PA Special Representative on Anti-Terrorism Nikolay Kovalev was in Helsinki to participate in the Standing Committee meeting. He expressed his opposition to the visa ban against his fellow Delegation Members and noted the decision of the remaining Members of the Delegation not to travel to the Annual Session.

Kovalev also announced that he will not participate in the remainder of the Session, which runs through 9 July.

For full information about the 2015 Annual Session, visit: 
http://www.oscepa.org/meetings/annual-sessions/2015-helsinki-annual-session.

LIVE STREAMING of the Session is available on www.oscepa.org.

Follow news from the Session using the Twitter hashtag #PAHelsinki15.