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PACE ratifies full credentials of Russian delegation, rejecting five-nation challenge

PACE ratifies full credentials of Russian delegation, rejecting five-nation challenge
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has once again confirmed that Russia's delegation enjoys full rights within the international body, after they were challenged by five member nations, led by Lithuania.

PACE delegates overwhelmingly voted to confirm Russia's credentials on Wednesday: 96 of them supported the move, with 44 votes against it and seven abstentions.

A challenge on "substantial grounds" was raised earlier this week by Lithuanian delegate Emanuelis Zingeris, who claimed that Moscow supposedly does not comply with the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. Other issues were raised as well, related to Crimea and ability of certain Russian MPs to represent it. The UK and Ukraine led the way in backing the complaint.

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The Russian delegation was pleased with the outcome of the vote, its leader Pyotr Tolstoy told reporters, while denouncing the proposed amendments – which were rejected – as “clearly anti-Russian” and “provocations.”

Tolstoy, who is the deputy speaker of the Russian Duma, was elected PACE vice president on Wednesday.

The restoration comes after several years of quite tense relations between Moscow and PACE, which stripped Russia of its voting rights in the international body in 2014, after Crimea voted in a referendum to leave Ukraine and rejoin the motherland. At that time, the Russian delegation was also banned from participating in the ruling bodies or monitoring missions of the organization.

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Moscow denounced that move as "politically motivated" and "discriminatory" while the Russian delegation stopped attending PACE meetings in protest. In 2017, Russia also suspended all payments to the Council of Europe, claiming that it will only release the funds after its rights are reinstated in full. The move prompted PACE to fully restore Russia's rights in June 2019, despite the opposition coming from Ukraine, as well as Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Georgia.

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