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Council Of Europe Expels Russia Over Ukraine War

The Council of Europe’s committee of ministers on Wednesday decided to expel Russia from the region’s top human rights body for seriously violating human rights, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms as a result of its war in Ukraine.

In an extraordinary meeting, the committee of ministers decided to cease Russia’s membership 26 years after it joined the council, a statement from the Strasbourg-based body said.

Expulsion from the council membership means Russian nationals can no longer approach the European Court of Human Rights. The court also announced in a statement its decision to suspend the examination of all applications against Russia.

Tiny Kox, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), welcomed the decision, stressing it was necessary in light of an unprovoked war of Russia against Ukraine.

“It is sad that we have to expel a country after 26 years of membership … but it was necessary, and I am glad we dared to do so,” he said, adding that PACE remains on the side of the victims of aggression by Russia.

The decision follows the adoption of a resolution by the parliamentary assembly on Tuesday, demanding the immediate withdrawal of Russia from the council.

This week, the parliamentary assembly held a two-day extraordinary plenary session to urgently debate the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Members of the assembly voted unanimously to exclude Moscow in the context of the procedure launched under Article 8 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, which allows for the suspension of a member’s rights of representation and also their membership if they seriously violate “the principles of the rule of law,” “human rights” and “fundamental freedoms.”

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal had also appealed to the council to exclude Russia for “starting a war in the center of Europe that can become a third world war.”

After Moscow illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, the council temporarily suspended Russia’s voting rights from 2014 to 2019. The body restored the membership after Moscow retaliated by refusing to pay membership amounting to € 33 million ($36 million), plunging the international body into a financial crisis.