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The speaker of the Russian State Duma has said the last two years, during which Luxembourg lawmaker Anne Brasseur was president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), "discredited" that institution.

Sergei Naryshkin made the comment in an interview with Russian state television on January 30.

He called Brasseur's tenure "a very discredited time in the history" of PACE and the Council of Europe. He also attributed to Brasseur a "personal role" in the worsening of relations between PACE and Moscow.

PACE, which is the parliamentary organ of the 47-member Council of Europe, voted in 2014 to strip the Russian delegation of its voting rights because of Moscow's annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea and its political and military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

PACE also suspended Russia's right to participate in Council of Europe governing bodies and election-monitoring missions.

As a result, the Russian delegation walked out of the assembly and has not participated in PACE activities since.

Naryshkin and Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko recently told PACE the Russian delegation would be ready to return "if the rights of national delegations are observed." Brasseur responded that the sanctions against Russia will remain in place at least until after Russia's legislative elections in September.

Brasseur's term as PACE president ended earlier this month, and she has been succeeded by Spanish lawmaker Pedro Agramunt.

Based on reporting by Vesti and Interfax

Ukrainian humanitarian activist Maryna Cherenkova has reportedly been detained by separatist security forces in the eastern city of Donetsk.

Activists with the Responsible Citizens group reported on social media on January 30 that Cherenkova sent a late-night text message that said simply, "I have been taken by MGB," referring to the separatists' "security ministry."

She has not been heard from since despite activists spending the entire night trying to learn of her whereabouts. The activists said police told them they do not have Cherenkova.

Since the conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists began, Cherenkova has been active in securing humanitarian relief for civilians in the Donetsk conflict zone.

Journalist Oliver Carroll posted on his Twitter feed that Cherenkova is "a larger than life character" who has "been at the forefront of [the] humanitarian effort in Donetsk."

She has been "arguably as important as any international [organization]," he added.

Earlier this week, separatist forces detained respected religious-studies professor Ihor Kozlovskiy. His relatives say he was taken from his home in Donetsk on January 28 and has not been heard from since.

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