Ukraine fury as Russian Federation gets back Council of Europe voting rights

Russian soldiers seized control of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014

Russian soldiers seized control of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014

Opponents say the resolution adopted in the early hours on Tuesday at the assembly's headquarters in Strasbourg is the first crack in worldwide sanctions imposed against Russian Federation in 2014.

Its centrepiece is the European Court of Human Rights.

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. He also recalled that "Crimea is an integral part of Russian Federation and its constituent territory and that no Crimea-related issues were a subject for discussion with any country".

The circumstances leading to the decision by PACE to limit Russia's voting rights after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 have not changed, he said.

The assembly also invited the parliaments of Council of Europe member states "which are not represented by a delegation" to PACE to present their credentials during the ongoing annual session. They had led Russian Federation to suspend its participation in the Assembly, threatening its permanent exit and also halting the participation fees, which are around 33 million euros, 10% of the total budget of the institution. Russian-backed separatists have also seized areas of eastern Ukraine and are still fighting Ukrainian forces.

The Council of Europe is an worldwide organisation set up to promote democracy, as well as protect human rights and the rule of law on the continent.

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Who was against the move?

The permanent exit of Russia would have the effect of making it impossible for Russian citizens to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, linked to the Council of Europe.

In 2015, PACE twice considered the idea of restoring the Russian delegation's rights only to tighten sanctions in the end.

Despite opposition from Ukraine, the Baltic countries, Poland and the United Kingdom, 118 MPs from 47 states voted in favor of a decision to permit a Russian delegation to take part in the vote on the new secretary general of the Council of Europe on Wednesday.

Russia, which since being stripped of its voting rights had exerted political pressure and stopped its €33 million-per-year contribution to the Council's budget.

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