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European Parliament Reaches Out To Russia's State Duma

BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament has decided to reestablish contacts with Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma.

The decision was taken on June 2 during a meeting of the European Parliament's Conference of Presidents, which includes European Parliament President Martin Schulz and the chairmen of the eight political party groups.

A parliamentary source told RFE/RL that the lawmakers made the move because the European Parliament has been “excluded from relations with Russia while the governments of several EU member states and the European Commission have had several meetings with members of the Russian government.”

The European Parliament decided to cut ties with Russian lawmakers after Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.

But the Conference of Presidents decided on June 2 to send a European Parliament member to the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region to be held in Russia on June 14-16.

It was also decided that members of the Duma will be invited to participate in a conference on the upcoming Russian legislative elections to be hosted in Brussels at an unconfirmed date.

However, the European Parliament will refrain from doing business with Duma members blacklisted by the EU.

The formal dialogue between the two chambers will also continue to be suspended, and only Russia’s EU ambassador and his chief adviser will continue to be allowed on the European Parliament's premises – a move decided in 2015 after Russia introduced visa bans on several European Parliament members.

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