Parliamentarians from 20 countries called on Austria to bar Russian delegates from a meeting of the world’s top security body later this month in a letter seen by AFP on Thursday.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will be held in Vienna on February 23-24, the anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Parliamentarians from 15 EU countries, as well as Canada, Georgia, Iceland, Great Britain and Ukraine itself opposed Russia’s participation in the meeting, calling on Austria to ban Moscow’s delegation from attending.

Russia will use the meeting to “sow disinformation, fake news and hate speech,” according to a letter sent to the Austrian government.

“The participation of Russian parliamentarians in the Vienna session … will be considered in Russia as its indirect legitimization and part of the return to ‘business as usual,'” the report added.

“Russia will discover that it can achieve its military goals without risking ostracism, isolation and international sanctions.”

The letter noted that last year Great Britain and Poland blocked the participation of Russian delegates in the OSCE parliamentary meetings in the two countries.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the OSCE, Yevgeny Tsymbalyuk, said in a statement sent to AFP that Russia should be deprived of “the opportunity to stage a big propaganda show.”

Austria, where the OSCE and many other international organizations are located, “is obliged in accordance with international law to grant entry to the delegates of all OSCE participating countries,” the press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told AFP.

“This is not an Austrian invitation, but an official meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly… The EU sanctions provide an exception to the entry ban for just such cases,” she said.

But she added that entry was allowed “exclusively to attend the meeting.” She confirmed that Austria had received the letter.

The OSCE was founded in 1957 to develop relations between the Western and Eastern blocs, and the organization currently has 57 members.

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