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Russia: Council Of Europe Ministers To Discuss Suspension

Strasbourg, 10 May 2000 (RFE/RL) - Foreign ministers and senior officials from the 41 Council of Europe member states are due to meet in Strasbourg this evening to discuss whether to suspend Russia from the group. The council of ministers will take two days to consider last month's resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to revoke Russia's membership because of alleged human rights abuses in Chechnya. In Moscow, Russian Chechnya spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said Krasheninnikov has no official mandate to broker a peace deal. Yastrzhembsky reiterated that there are no official negotiations being conducted between Moscow's federal government and Chechnya.

The assembly also suspended Moscow's voting rights in the pro-democracy body. Council of Europe spokeswoman Henriette Girard told RFE/RL today that a communique will be issued at the end of discussions tomorrow afternoon. Those discussions are being attended by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. But Girard said no final decision on Russia's standing will likely be taken until the end of next month.

Since its founding half a century ago, no member state has ever been expelled from the Council of Europe. Observers say Russia is unlikely to be expelled. Several member states, among them the Czech Republic, have said they will vote against suspending Russia.