PACE invites Russia back to European human rights body


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The Council of Europe has invited Russia to participate in the summer session of its Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), after ruling that all members have the “rights to vote.” Moscow was stripped of its voting rights in 2014.

All PACE member states have the “rights to vote, to speak and to be represented in the Assembly and its bodies shall not be suspended or withdrawn in the context of a challenge to or reconsideration of credentials,” the Parliamentary Assembly said after passing an amendment to its rules of procedure by 118 votes to 62, with 10 abstentions.

Following the Monday night vote that clarified the scope of possible sanctions against member states, Russian lawmakers will finally be allowed to present their credentials for the June 2019 PACE session to “ensure that member States’ right and obligation to be represented and to participate in both statutory bodies of the Council of Europe is respected,” the Parliamentary Assembly said.

The rift between Moscow and PACE started in 2014 after a coup in Kiev triggered a civil war in Ukraine and the population of Crimea held a referendum to join Russia. Back then, the Russian delegation was deprived of its voting rights and banned from participating in the ruling bodies or monitoring missions of the organization.

Moscow had called the PACE decision “politically motivated” and “discriminatory,” and instructed its delegation to stop attending meetings in protest, virtually leaving the organization. In 2017, Moscow suspended all payments to the Council of Europe, claiming that it will only release the funds after its rights are reinstated in full. The Russian delegation led by the State Duma’s Deputy Speaker Petr Tolstoy is already in Strasbourg, ready to take part in the PACE session.