PACE restores Russia’s credentials despite protest by Ukraine
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) restored the Russian delegation’s power to vote and participate in assemblies in spite of challenges from Ukraine, Russia’s crackdown on civil society and its breaches of international law.
In a 109-37 vote, with 24 abstentions, PACE expressed concerns about Russia “exacerbating negative tendencies with regard to democracy, the rule of law and human rights” but decided against new sanctions on the Russian delegation because of PACE’s “commitment to dialogue,” according to the provisional version of the resolution.
“Russia was given another chance… Europe doesn’t want to isolate Russia because a caged beast becomes too mad and insatiable,” said Maria Mezentseva, the head of Ukraine’s delegation at PACE.
The United Kingdom, Sweden, Estonia, Slovakia, Poland and some other countries have supported Ukraine’s push to strip the Russian delegation of its PACE credentials, Mezensteva added.
The Assembly called on Russia to fulfill PACE’s recommendations, which include an end to the occupation of Crimea and Donbas and the release of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his supporters, who were detained en masse before and after Navalny’s return to Russia.
PACE stated that its decision to ratify Russian delegation’s credentials does not mean the Assembly even implicitly recognizes Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
The Russian delegation was first stripped of some of its credentials in 2014.
Following Russia’s aggression in Crimea, PACE suspended the delegation’s rights to vote and participate in election observation missions. It also excluded the delegation from the Council’s leading bodies, such as the Bureau of the Assembly, the Presidential Committee and the Standing Committee.
In protest, Russia stopped taking part in parliamentary assemblies starting Jan. 2015. Two years later it ended its financial contributions to PACE.
In June 2019, the Assembly voted to reinstate Russia’s voting rights.
It also outlawed the suspension of any delegation’s voting and participation rights, making it nearly impossible to sanction Russia in the future.
Ukraine strongly criticized PACE’s move, which was seen as a concession to Russia despite its growing hostility in the region.
The delegations of France and Germany advocated for continuous dialogue with Russia, particularly through the Parliamentary Assembly.
Ukraine, The United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden, and the Baltic countries strongly opposed Russia’s return to PACE since Russia has not adhered to any resolutions passed in the Assembly.