The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted on Tuesday evening to expel Russia from the organization in the wake of the country’s offensive in Ukraine: 216 of 219 delegates voted for the exclusion, with three abstaining.
Following the decision, the chair of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, Luigi Di Maio, the president of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Tiny Kox, and the secretary general of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejcinovic Buric, issued a joint statement, condemning the offensive and expressing support for Ukrainian and Russian people who share democratic values and hope to remain part of the European family.
“The Russian authorities have deprived the Russian population of access to the best human rights protection system around, which includes the European Court of Human Rights, and the vast Convention system.” the statement reads.
The decision of the PACE was praised by Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba, who tweeted on Tuesday evening that this “It was necessary to do so in 2014..”
PACE voted for Russia to be removed from the Council of Europe. Number of votes: 216 out of 219. This was the Assembly which voted for Russia’s return not too long ago. Now it’s time for #deputinization. Final decision will be made by the Committee of Ministers.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 15, 2022
Maria Zakharova, the official Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said that the Council of Europe had turned into “a convenient platform for NATO’s information and political campaigns,” leaving no room for equal and efficient work.
“All things in the Council of Europe have been reduced to dust and ash long ago. This organization has become just an instrument for NATO propaganda, and I wasn’t stuttering just now. Multiple times we have repeated it, but it is precisely the Alliance structures as well as NATO member countries who have formed much of the Council of Europe’s agenda through their respective mechanisms.,” she said on Sputnik radio.
It was announced earlier on Tuesday that Pyotr Tolstoy, the head of the Russian delegation at the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly, had handed over a letter from Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announcing Russia’s decision to leave the organization, pre-empting the country’s expulsion. The Council of Europe confirmed Moscow’s letter was received.
Russia is now the second to withdraw from the Council of Europe. The first was Greece, which resigned temporarily in 1969 following a coup by the Greek military.
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. Russia demands that Ukraine be declared a neutral nation and that it will not join NATO. Kiev claims that the Russian invasion was unprovoked. It also denies any plans to take the republics with force.
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