The Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda not only misleads its readers on Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia but also ignores a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s condemnation of Russia’s “aggression” in Ukraine. A majority of the Russian media published reports similar with the KP.ru piece.
On October 11, the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council (PACE) adopted a resolution, which only lays the groundwork for restoring Russia’s voting rights in that group.
PACE is the parliamentary arm of the Council of Europe, the 47-nation group headquartered in Strasbourg, France that was established to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe.
Michele Nicoletti, the PACE rapporteur who proposed the resolution, underscored the challenges facing the European Union with the United Kingdom’s impending departure from the EU and Europe’s growing refugee crisis and terrorism threat. He called for a European Council Summit to deal with these issues. The last European Council Summit was held in Poland 12 years ago.
Nicoletti said that preparing for such a summit requires that the work of the Council of Europe’s two statutory bodies, PACE and the Committee of Ministers, be “harmonized,” given that, Russia for the last three years “has participated in the activities and been represented” only in the Committee of Ministers, not in PACE.
PACE adopted the resolution clearing the way for the return of Russia’s voting status within the group on the condition that Moscow fully complies with its Minsk agreement obligations aimed at restoring peace in eastern Ukraine.
Thus, the Russian media reports claiming that PACE has initiated the lifting of sanctions against Russia and ignored Ukraine’s grievances are misleading.
Russian media also failed to report that PACE, during the same session in which the resolution was adopted, also issued a declaration condemning Russia for violating the rights of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russia. The document used strong language, characterizing Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine as “aggression” and “military interference” and calling for additional sanctions against Moscow.
“Taking into account the situation mentioned above, we call on the Committee of Ministers, Secretary General, Commissioner for Human Rights to prompt concrete actions with the view of protecting the rights and freedoms of these persons and ensuring their liberation,” the PACE declaration states. “We also call on Council of Europe member States and the European Union to impose personal sanctions on Russian citizens alleged in the brutal violation of fundamental human rights.”
PACE stripped Russia of its voting rights in April 2014, in response to Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
Subsequently, Russia suspended its membership in PACE while remaining a key member and actively participating in the Council of Europe’s other statutory body - the Committee of the Ministers.
In June, Russia announced it was canceling payment of an annual membership fee to the Council of Europe until the status of Russia’s PACE delegation was fully restored.
On October 9, the first day of PACE’S 2017 autumn session, Russian senator Valentina Matvienko announced that Moscow will stop complying with the European Court of Human Rights’ rulings unless Russia’s voting rights in PACE are fully restored.
The Russian Federation stands out among the countries of Europe for having the highest number of citizens who have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights about rights violations.