Published: Wed, June 26, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Council of Europe assembly authorises Russia's return

Council of Europe assembly authorises Russia's return

Most of lawmakers, 77 of 136, opposed the inclusion of this issue in PACE´s working agenda until June 28.

Ukraine, which has been supported by Baltic countries and Britain, had been against Russia's return to the council.

PACE, which is ostensibly tasked with the responsibility of upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law, stripped Russian Federation of its voting rights in 2014 after it invaded Crimea and backed militants in the East of Ukraine which has resulted in more than 13,000 deaths.

"Considerable weakening of sanctions regime by PACE which is provided by this resolution occurred amid absence of any meaningful steps from Russia's side, blatant non-compliance of taken commitments and PACE's resolution approved as a reaction to Russian aggression", the establishment informed. The council oversees the European Court of Human Rights which past year alone passed 248 judgments in Russian Federation.

"The members' rights to vote, to speak and to be represented in the Assembly and its bodies shall not be suspended or withdrawn in the context of a challenge to or reconsideration of credentials", the adopted PACE resolution said. Its parliamentary assembly composed of member legislators voted to restore Russia's voting rights 118-62, with 10 abstentions.

Ukraine's delegation walked out in protest and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, sworn in last month, said he was disappointed by the decision, accusing "European partners" of not listening to his concerns.

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The Kremlin called the vote "a return to common sense", the RBC news outlet quoted spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

Amelie de Montchalin, France's Secretary of State for European Affairs, said "it would be risky... to deprive millions of citizens of access to bodies that protect their rights".

"If Russia leaves, the Council of Europe would lose the limited levers of influence it now has", Yuri Dzhibladze, a prominent rights campaigner, told AFP.

"Over the past five years the sanctions on the Russian delegation at PACE have not had any effect on human rights violations, the rise of authoritarianism, and the Russian authorities' aggressive actions on the worldwide arena".

The country had threatened to quit the body altogether if its delegation isn't reinstated and it can't vote on the next secretary-general to succeed Norway's Thorbjorn Jagland.

Two candidates are in the running: Belgium s Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders and Croatia s Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejcinovic Buric.

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