At the opening session in Strasbourg on Monday, 25 January, members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) supported the initiative of the Ukrainian delegation to challenge the powers of representatives of the Russian Federation due to Russia’s disrespect for the rule of law and human rights violations. So far, the Russians can take part in the session.

The corresponding initiative was put forward by Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the PACE Maria Mezentseva. Some 38 delegates from different member states supported the proposal, noting “the strength of the arguments,” while 61 opposed it.

In her speech, the representative of Ukraine stressed that, in 2019, the Assembly welcomed the return of the Russian delegation, hoping for a dialogue with Moscow, but since then the Russian authorities have continued to violate the political rights of their citizens, and “have been conducting a campaign to persecute the opposition leader.” In addition, Mezentseva recalled that Russia “stands behind human rights violations in the occupied territories” and does not comply with the PACE resolutions, which, in particular, condemned the annexation of Crimea.

The issue of challenging the powers of the Russian delegation will be submitted for consideration by the Assembly’s Monitoring Committee, which will appoint a responsible person who will prepare a report and a resolution to recommend confirming, not confirming or confirming with restrictions the powers of the Russian delegation. The discussion of this issue is scheduled for Thursday, 28 January, and representatives of the Russian Federation may be deprived of their right to vote, as it was in 2014.

On 27 January, the PACE will hold a debate on the detention and arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

As a reminder, after the Russian delegation was deprived of the right to vote in 2014 (after the start of the occupation of Crimea), the sanctions were extended several times. In 2019, the Assembly did not amend the regulations, which allowed Russia to return its powers. Ukraine, in response to this step, announced that it refused to participate in the 2019 autumn session. In January 2020, the PACE approved the powers of the Russian delegation.

Bohdan Marusyak

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