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'Dark Hour': Council Of Europe Suspends Russia

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (file photo)
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (file photo)

The Council of Europe has suspended all representatives of Russia from participation in the pan-European rights body’s Committee of Ministers and its parliament over Moscow's attack on Ukraine.

The 47-nation Council of Europe announced the suspension on February 25, saying in a statement it decided to suspend the rights of representation of Russia from the committee and the assembly “with immediate effect.”

Council of Europe Secretary-General Marija Pejcinovic Buric described the attack on Ukraine as a "flagrant violation" of the statute of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which the body oversees.

"This is a dark hour for Europe and everything it stands for," she said.

The Strasbourg-based organization said Russia remained a member of Council of Europe and continued to be bound to the relevant human rights conventions.

“Suspension is not a final measure but a temporary one, leaving channels of communication open,” the statement said.

The decision does not affect the ECHR, which is part of the Council of Europe. The Russian judge on the court, Mikhail Lobov, remains a member and applications introduced against Russia will continue to be examined and decided by the court, it said.

Russia, a Council of Europe member since 1996, has been sanctioned once before. After its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, the Russian delegation in the assembly was deprived of voting rights.

Russia responded by boycotting the sessions of the assembly and suspending contributions to the council's budget. The dispute was resolved, and Russia's rights were restored in 2019 in a deal that infuriated Kyiv.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, AP, AFP, and Reuters

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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