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MPs walk out during Russian delegation’s address at OSCE meeting

OSCE parliamentarians, gathered for the Winter Meeting in Vienna on Thursday, walked out of the room before the Russian delegation’s speech in protest over Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine which started one year ago.

Other delegates raised Ukrainian flags as the head of the Russian delegation, deputy chairman of the state Duma Pyotr Tolstoy began speaking.

“There is no crisis in Ukraine, please do not use this term, there is a war in Ukraine, which has been going on since 2014,” said a parliamentarian from Latvia moments before the Russian delegation spoke.”

En la Asamblea Parlamentaria de la OSCE en Viena, el diputado letón Richard Kols envió una delegación rusa tras el buque de guerra ruso.

Durante el discurso del representante de la Federación Rusa, los participantes de la reunión comenzaron desafiantemente a abandonar la sala.

— Tte.Dan 🪖 (@kozako01) February 23, 2023
“There is an obvious problem in this room that is not being paid attention to, which is the Russian delegation. If someone were to ask me who are the war criminals, I would point to the people who occupy the back benches in this room,” the Latvian said.

“It is a disgrace that the Russian delegation is here, especially since it consists of people who are on the sanctions list and voted for the annexation of the territory of an independent state,” the parliamentarian added.

‘Every principle violated’
“Over the past year, every principle of the Helsinki Final Act [1975] has been violated by the Russian Federation,” Margareta Cederfelt, chairwoman of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, said.

“As a result of Russian aggression, our region is heading toward the unknown, and the OSCE PA itself is at a crossroads,” she added.

Ukraine and Lithuania boycotted the two-day meeting.

In a written statement released ahead of the meeting, the OSCE said “the Austria-OSCE Headquarters Agreement requires Austria to facilitate the entry of delegations of participating States for OSCE meetings, which means that the issuance of visas is not a matter of discretion, but a question of a legal obligation.”

“Consequently, the Winter Meeting is expected to include participation by the Russian and Belarusian delegations,” it added.

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