Russia said on Tuesday it would withdraw from the European Council after pressure on Moscow to expel Moscow from the European Union.
Basically, after jumping out of the Strasbourg-based organization, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it had given notice of departure to Secretary-General Marija Pejcinovic Buric.
Russia’s decision to step down for a quarter of a century in the European Council (COE) also paves the way for Moscow to decide whether to reinstate the death penalty.
The Council of Europe’s “Ruxit” means that Russia will not be a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and that its citizens will not be able to apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
This is the second time in the history of the Council of Europe that a member state has announced that it has left the organization after leaving Greece temporarily in the late 1960s.
Russia, on February 24, allowed tens of thousands of troops to enter Ukraine and one day suspend all representation rights.
“We have repeatedly expressed our strong condemnation of the Russian Federation’s attack on Ukraine as leader of the Council of Europe,” said Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Tiny Kox, President of the European Parliament and Secretary-General. Council of Europe President Marija Pejcinovic Buric said in a statement.
“The Committee of Ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting tomorrow morning to announce the decision of the Russian Foreign Minister to withdraw from the Council of Europe,” they said.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal demanded the immediate expulsion of Russia on Monday, saying he had no right to remain a member after sending troops to the western country.
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The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement on its “Telegram launching the procedure for leaving the Council of Europe” in its Telegram, adding that it has “no regrets” about leaving.
Russia joined the European Council in 1996.
The ministry said its departure “will not affect the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens” and will “continue to apply the rulings of the already adopted European Court of Human Rights unless they violate the Russian Constitution.”
He said the EU and NATO member states had turned the organization into a “tool for anti-Russian policies”.
Russia’s exit will mean a major change for the ECHR, which acts as a court of last resort when all internal avenues are exhausted.
Cases brought by Russian citizens have piled up in the ECHR, with 24% of current cases involving dissident prisoner Alexei Navalny.
Founded in 1949, Russia has never been expelled from the European Council, which includes 47 member states.
The Moscow movement has a precedent: when it was under military rule, Greece withdrew from the body in order not to be expelled in 1969. Athens reunited in 1974 after the fall of the junta.
Failure to use the death penalty is a prerequisite for membership in the COE, and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of the National Security Council, recalled the return of the death penalty if Russia left the body.
Medvedev said Russia’s suspension was “a good opportunity to recover some important measures to prevent particularly serious crime – such as the death penalty … which is actively used in the United States and China.”
Russia has imposed a moratorium on the death penalty since 1996, although it has never formally abolished the practice.
Belarus, the only European country that still uses the death penalty and an ally of Moscow, is not a member of the organization.
A Russian exit will cut the COE by almost seven percent of its annual budget, about $ 500 million ($ 545 million).
But Buric told AFP this month that it had received “reassuring” signals from several member states, including France and Germany, that it was ready to ensure the organisation’s financial sustainability.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically created from a union feed.)