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controversial visit Russian State Duma speaker lauds Swiss flexibility

Vyacheslav Volodin and Ignazio Cassis

Vyacheslav Volodin with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis.

(Keystone)

Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Russian parliament’s lower house, has praised the “more flexible” attitude of Switzerland compared to the European Union during an official visit begun on Sunday.

Volodin, made the comments in an interview with Swiss public television, RTS, ahead of a meeting in Bern on Monday with his counterpart from Switzerland’s House of Representatives Dominique de Buman, as well as Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis.

+ More about the visit of Vyacheslav Volodin to Bern

“Switzerland has a more flexible attitude when it comes to applying sanctions, and that’s what makes the difference,” he said, adding that “the time for such sanctions will soon be over.” “Sanctions are a dead-end strategy, one that we do not support, and I don’t think Switzerland supports either.”

Volodin is currently under both American and EU sanctions for his role in the 2014 Crimea crisis, and is barred from entering EU territory.

Switzerland, not a member of the 28-nation bloc, has not imposed such sanctions. Swiss officials explained the controversial visit – extended after a Swiss parliamentary delegation travelled to Moscow in 2017 – as an attempt to encourage “dialogue” on the Ukrainian conflict.

Asked about relations with the United States under President Trump, the Duma speaker since 2016 said that the policies of the Obama Administration – although things were sometimes “simpler” before – have been largely continued.

He criticised the recent accusations of meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections that led to the charging of 13 Russians by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation last Friday.

This is the result of “a deep crisis in American politics”, said Volodin, where there is a “hysterical attitude whipped up against Russia.”

SDA-ATS/RTS/dos

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