Russia to quit Council of Europe as it prepares to suspend Moscow | Russo-Ukrainian War

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Moscow says it is withdrawing from the Strasbourg-based body as pressure mounts on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has said it will withdraw from the Council of Europe after pressure increased for Moscow to be expelled from the pan-European human rights body following its invasion of Ukraine.

Essentially jumping ahead of being kicked out of the Strasbourg-based body, Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it had notified secretary-general Marija Pejcinovic Buric of its departure.

The decision pulls back the curtain on Russia’s quarter-century-long membership of the Council of Europe (CoE) and also paves the way for Moscow to reimpose the death penalty if authorities decide to do so.

The council’s so-called ‘Ruxit’ means Russia will no longer be a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and its citizens will no longer be able to file complaints with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). ).

It is only the second time in the history of the Council of Europe that a member state has announced that it has left the body after the temporary exit of Greece in the late 1960s.

“Aggression against Ukraine”

Moscow’s decision comes as the Council of Europe prepares to formally expel Russia. On Tuesday, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted to expel Russia after an emergency session in Strasbourg. The body’s ministerial committee is due to hold a special meeting on Wednesday to prepare for the suspension.

“As leaders of the Council of Europe, we have repeatedly expressed our strong condemnation of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine,” said Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Tiny Kox and Buric in a press release.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Monday called for Russia’s immediate expulsion, saying it had no right to remain a member after sending troops to the pro-Western country.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on “the start of the Council of Europe exit procedure” on its Telegram account, adding that it had “no regrets” about leaving. Russia joined the Council of Europe in 1996.

The ministry said his exit “would not affect the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens” and that “the implementation of the already adopted resolutions of the European Court of Human Rights will continue, if they do not contradict the Russian Constitution”.

EU and NATO member states within the Council of Europe have made the organization an “instrument of anti-Russian policies”, he added.

Russia’s exit will mark a major change for the ECHR, which acts as a court of last instance when all internal avenues are exhausted.

Cases brought by Russian citizens have accumulated before the ECHR, representing 24% of ongoing cases, such as those concerning dissident prisoner Alexey Navalny.

‘A good opportunity’

No member state has ever been excluded from the Council of Europe, which was created in 1949 and has 47 member states including Russia.

Moscow’s decision has precedent – when under military rule, Greece left the corps in 1969 to avoid deportation. Athens then joined in 1974 after the fall of the army.

Not using the death penalty is a prerequisite for joining the Council of Europe, and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of the National Security Council, had spoken of the return of the death penalty if Russia left the body.

Medvedev had described Russia’s suspension as “a good opportunity to reinstate a number of important measures to prevent particularly serious crimes – such as the death penalty…which is actively used in the United States and China.”

Russia has observed a moratorium on the death penalty since 1996, although it has never formally abolished the practice.

A Russian exit will also deprive the CoE of nearly 7% of its annual budget, or about 500 million euros ($545 million). But Buric said he had received “reassuring” signals from several member states, including France and Germany, ready to guarantee the financial sustainability of the organization.

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