PACE restores full rights to Russia despite continued illegal occupation of Crimea

Despite Russia's continued and illegal occupation of Crimea, and its ongoing military activities in eastern Ukraine, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) voted in favour of the restoration of full rights to the Russian delegation on Wednesday.

A total of 96 lawmakers voted in favour, 44 were against, while seven abstained.

Out of the 33 national delegations present in the hall, 18 voted in support of their Russian colleagues: Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Cyprus, Finland, France, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Serbia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, San Marino, Greece, Monaco, Andorra and Belgium also supported the move.

Delegations from Czech Republic, Spain, Moldova, The Netherlands, Turkey, Sweden, Slovakia and the United Kingdom were divided over the issue. Delegations from Albania and Denmark abstained.

"The Assembly does not consider Rule 8.2.a. or 8.2.b. (according to which a national delegation’s powers can be limited due to violations of the Council of Europe’s basic principles or non-fulfillment of obligations) applicable and resolves to ratify the credentials of the Russian Federation," reads the resolution, adopted by the Assembly.

According to the document, in the six months after its return to the Assembly, Russia fulfilled a series of recommendations included in Resolution 2292 (2019) on the Russian delegation’s return to PACE. Those measures include Russia’s participation in prisoner swaps in Ukraine and preparations for more similar operations by Moscow and Kyiv.

The document also acknowledges that "some progress has been made" with regard to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements on Ukrainian reconciliation.

"With regard to the financial obligations towards the Council of Europe, the Russian Federation has paid all due contributions to the ordinary budget and partial agreements," the resolution says. "Unpaid interests are the subject of discussions in the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers."

According to the resolution, the PACE Monitoring Committee is to compile a report assessing Russia’s implementation of its obligations within the Council of Europe framework by the end of April.

"The Monitoring Committee has resumed its work with regard to the Russian Federation and organised a number of hearings, which will be taken into account by the co-rapporteurs in their ongoing preparation of the report. The Russian delegation has co-operated fully with the Monitoring Committee," the resolution reads.

The Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of its rights to vote, to take part in monitoring missions or make up the PACE leadership institutions in April 2014, following the events in Ukraine and Crimea. In 2015, PACE considered reinstating the rights of the Russian delegation twice, but the sanctions only got tighter then. In response, the Russian delegation announced that it refused to work in such conditions and since 2016 did not submit its application to confirm its rights. In 2017, Russia also froze the payment of its membership fees to the Council of Europe budget.

On June 26, 2019, members of the PACE summer session approved the resolution drafted by a monitoring committee, which confirmed the full powers of the Russian delegation within the organization.

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