The two-day second International Parliamentary Conference Russia-Africa dedicated to the multipolar world kicks off on Sunday in Moscow.The conference is being attended by representatives of scientific, educational and expert communities from Russia and African countries, members of the State Duma, heads of federal executive bodies, senators of the Federation Council, heads of legislative bodies of Russia’s constituents, and representatives of the business community. More than 40 delegations from most African countries will take part in the conference. They will discuss burning issues of the international parliamentary agenda with their Russian counterparts, as indicated on the State Duma’s website.Meetings between the State Duma’s chairman, Vyacheslav Volodin, and a number of heads of delegations – speakers of parliaments and chambers of parliaments of African countries – are scheduled to appear at the conference.Delegations of African parliamentarians began arriving in Moscow on Friday. On the same day, Volodin had a meeting with the speaker of South Africa’s National Assembly of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Volodin said that there were opportunities to strengthen cooperation in various fields between Russia and South Africa using parliamentary methods.The plenary session of the International parliamentary conference ‘Russia-Africa in the Multipolar World’ is scheduled for 20 March, and will be held in the Hall of Columns. Yuri Ushakov, presidential aide on international affairs, told reporters that President Vladimir Putin will address the Russia-Africa parliamentary conference on 20 March.According to the State Duma’s website, the main goals of the Russia-Africa conference will be both the intensification of Russian-African interparliamentary contacts and the establishment of permanent dialogue between the Federal Assembly of Russia and parliaments of African states. Also an important topic will be the support and development of innovative projects and attracting public attention to parliamentary activities.The second Russia-Africa summit is scheduled for July 2023 in the city of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Particular attention at the second Russia-Africa summit will be paid to education, as Russia and Africa are preparing for a new technological leap, Oleg Ozerov, ambassador at large for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said on 16 March. As the Rector of Moscow State University Viktor Sadovnichy said previously, about 27,000 students from African countries study at universities in Russia, more than 5,000 of them on scholarships subsidized by the Russian federal budget.The first Russia-Africa summit was held in the Russian city of Sochi in October 2019, and the first Russia-Africa international conference was held in Moscow the same year.Bolstering ContactsRecently, contacts between Russia and African countries have intensified. The chairman of the Federation Council, Valentina Matvienko, said that she passed an invitation to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune from Russian President Vladimir Putin to pay an official visit to Russia and take part in the second Russia-Africa summit.The Russian delegation of the Federation Council arrived in Algeria on 15 March. The next day, Matvienko met with the chairman of the Algerian Council of the Nation Salah Goudjil. Negotiations are also planned with the chairman of the National People’s Assembly of Algeria Brahim Bougali.Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov previously visited the continent, including meetings with representatives of the foreign ministries of Mali, Eritrea, Angola, South Africa, and other states. Western countries have expressed concern about the Russian foreign minister’s visits.Earlier, Sputnik interviewed Russian members of parliament on what closer contacts between Russia and Africa mean in the modern world.As Russian MPs noted, it is no accident that Russian-African relations have become the target of increased Western activity. The reasons for the West’s concern are simple – either political or economic. As one of the MPs recalled, up to half African states had opposed, abstained from, or refused to vote on anti-Russian resolutions since March 2022. And the “selfish motive” that the West suddenly “remembered” about its former colonies was seen and realized in Africa.African countries’ pragmatic approach and unwillingness to support anti-Russian sentiments have disappointed the West, and against the background of unsuccessful visits to the continent by American and European politicians, the Russia-Africa summit planned in Saint Petersburg has also alarmed foreign partners, the parliamentarians added.The MPs said France, Germany, and the US had been frequenting Africa. However, their attempts were “not crowned with triumph”.Politicians do not rule out attempts to directly interfere in relations between Russia and Africa. According to them, new sanctions may become a tool for such interference. “They will definitely try to get in and drive a wedge,” the MPs said.Relations between Russia and African countries are natural and, as the parliamentarians noted, although Africa is neither pro-Russian nor anti-Western, there is a clear unity in the main thing: the countries of the “continent of the future” no longer want to be participants and hostages of new cold wars between the great powers.
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