Jagland: ‘Would be disastrous if Russia pulls out of Council of Europe’
Activists warn that such a move could lead to negative consequences for Russian civil society and human rights.
Moscow may soon leave the Council of Europe, which, according to activists, could deprive Russians of the last hope for justice and nullify efforts to integrate the country into international human rights structures.
Russia has been under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights for over 20 years, becoming the largest provider of cases for this body, which is under the control of the main human rights organization on the continent..
But after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, relations between Moscow and the Council of Europe have reached a crisis point, and Russia may withdraw from this human rights body, or its participation may be suspended, activists and observers warn..
“Vladimir Putin definitely considers membership in the Council of Europe to be an element of belonging to the civilized world, and leaving it has always been considered an undesirable scenario,” says Tatyana Stanovaya, head of the Paris-based analytical company R. Politik. “But, perhaps, there is no other way out in the current circumstances.”.
The withdrawal of Russia or “Rukzit”, as Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland called it, will have far-reaching consequences.
Activists warn of possible increased pressure on civil society, worsening conditions for prisoners, new wave of emigration and possible resumption of the death penalty.
Rukzit could weaken the council itself and create new fault lines in Europe.
After the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe deprived the Russian delegation of the right to vote and other rights.
In response, Russia suspended the payment of an annual contribution of 33 million euros to the Council of Europe, which is about 7 percent of its budget, and refused to attend PACE sessions..
As a result, more than half of the judges of the ECHR, who are elected for a nine-year term and cannot be re-elected, as well as the current Commissioner for Human Rights, were elected without the participation of Russia..
After non-payment of contributions for two years, that is, from June of this year, Russia’s participation in the Council of Europe may be suspended.
More importantly, Moscow may not be able to take part in the June elections for the organization’s new secretary general. Russia warned that in this case, she could leave.
Deputy Chairman of the State Duma and head of the Russian delegation to PACE Pyotr Tolstoy said that Moscow will take part in the elections only if its rights are fully restored, and if PACE agrees to exclude the possibility of imposing sanctions against national delegations.
Tolstoy told AFP that if this does not happen, the Russian delegation will not take part in the elections. According to him, this calls into question the need for Russia’s participation in the work of this organization..
Russia’s main opposition politician Alexei Navalny, who has filed many complaints with the ECHR on his own behalf and on behalf of others, admits that Moscow may be bluffing.
Navalny told AFP that the Kremlin is enjoying the fact that the Russian delegation has been denied the right to vote. According to the oppositionist, the Kremlin is using tensions with Europe to strengthen its position within the country..
Navalny says that while the Russian government does not like many of the ECHR decisions, the authorities do not want to leave the Council of Europe, and the Council of Europe does not really want to exclude Russia. He admits that the organization can change the rules to keep Moscow in its composition..