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Russia: Moscow Welcomes Council Of Europe Decision

Moscow, 26 January 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The Russian government said today it is satisfied with the decision by the Council of Europe's parliament to restore Russia's voting rights. The pan-European organization dedicated to improving human rights suspended Russia's right to vote nine months ago over reports of abuses committed by Russian troops against Chechen civilians.

Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Gusarov told Interfax today that the assembly realized that Russia is not "a pupil to be expelled from a classroom" for poor behavior.

Presidential aide Sergei Yastzhembsky told ITAR-TASS that the decision was the result of efforts by Russia's government to normalize the situation in Chechnya.

But Sergei Kovalev, a State Duma member and human rights campaigner, said the European delegates were fooled by Russia. He said it seems the Council of Europe regularly betrays its own human rights convention.