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Baltic States Urge Council of Europe To Reject Russia

Tallinn, Estonia Jan. 24 (RFE/RL) - The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania today urged the Council of Europe to reject Russian membership, arguing that Russia has not sufficently cleaned up its human rights record.

The 38 member nations in the council are expected to vote tomorrow in Strasbourg on whether to admit Russia.

The press secretary at Estonia's Foreign Ministry in Tallinn, Mari-Ann Kelam, noted: "We are saying that Russia's not ready and that membership will hurt the Council of Europe." She added that by "making politically expedient decisions, the Council of Europe is in danger of losing its credibility."

Some countries have expressed reservations about Russia's human rights record, especially in Chechnya - though others argue it will be easier to persuade Russia to continue with democratic reforms if it becomes a member.