The Ukrainian OSCE representative speaks of a “huge propaganda show”: After all, sanctioned Russian politicians apparently receive visas for an OSCE meeting that is taking place on the anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine. In the evening there will be an FPÖ ball.

On the anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine, of all days, sanctioned Russian parliamentarians are apparently allowed to travel to Austria for an OSCE meeting. This is reported by the Austrian newspaper “Standard”.

Accordingly, the Austrian Foreign Ministry has announced that it will not refuse the necessary visas to the members of the Russian delegation. The delegation is said to include the nationalist Deputy Duma Chairman Pyotr Tolstoy, who says he wants to bomb Ukraine back to the 18th century, and Leonid Slutsky. He had demanded that prisoners of war from the Azov steelworks in Mariupol be executed.

As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, Austria is legally obliged to issue visas. Vienna is the seat of the OSCE and the Headquarters Agreement, which is binding under international law, stipulates that Austria must allow delegates from all OSCE participating states to enter the country for events within the framework of this international organization. “This is not a matter of discretion, but an obligation for the home country.” Last year, Britain and Poland refused visas to members of the Russian delegation at OSCE events.

According to the reports, some EU partners are already criticizing. For example, the Baltic states said that all members of the Russian delegation were subject to sanctions because they voted for the Russian war and the annexation of Ukrainian territories. Severe criticism came from the Ukrainian representative to the OSCE, Yevheniy Tsymbalyuk. “They have never protested against Russia’s terrible crimes,” he told the “Standard” about the participants. Russia has been ruining the organization “for years”.

It could be particularly tricky that the traditional Akademikerball of the FPÖ begins on February 24th. According to the “Standard”, diplomats fear that parts of the Russian delegation could mix with the ball guests, not least because of the long-standing close relationships that the FPÖ had cultivated under ex-party leader Heinz-Christian Strache with Putin’s United Russia party. Zymbalyuk fears a “huge propaganda show” by Russia if they “dance in the Hofburg on the anniversary of the Ukraine invasion.”