Top senator hints at Russia’s looming exit from Council of Europe

Top senator hints at Russia’s looming exit from Council of Europe
The Russian Upper House speaker says the country’s authorities are preparing to quit the Council of Europe as Russian politicians are “tired” of constant reprisals from the body.

Russian Upper House speaker Valentina Matviyenko made the announcement at a Thursday meeting with the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Liliane Maury Pasquier, adding that she is speaking with “absolute sincerity.”

We are tired of being used as whipping boys,” Matviyenko said.

Russia came into open conflict with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 2014 – after the Russian delegation was stripped of its voting rights and banned from participating in ruling bodies or monitoring missions – over Russia’s alleged role in the political crisis in Ukraine.

In response, the Russian delegation stopped participating in PACE sessions. Russia also passed a parliamentary resolution stating that nations which have repeatedly violated international law and caused thousands of casualties have no moral right to judge other nations or punish them with sanctions.

In addition, in 2017 Russia froze one-third of its annual payments to the Council of Europe – about €11 million (US$12.4 million) – the approximate share of the fee that was used to sponsor the Parliamentary Assembly.

Russian officials, including parliamentary speakers, announced that the freeze would remain in place unless PACE adopts a regulation banning discrimination against national delegations.

In June, President Pasquier said that without Russia’s input, PACE’s budget was suffering from a deficit.

Russian politicians have repeatedly dismissed a potential return of the Russian delegation to PACE unless its rights are restored in full and the body’s regulations are changed so that discriminatory measures against national delegations are made impossible.

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