Russia will not wait to be expelled from the Council of Europe, but will leave the organization on its own, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.
"We joined the Council of Europe assuming it provides a pan-European, universal, legal humanitarian space. Those who have just undermined this space by illegitimate actions, violating the statute, to deprive the Russian delegation of rights equal with other delegations, they, I am convinced, know what they are doing," Lavrov said in an interview with the Euronews television channel.
The official also noted that if the organization wants "to expel Russia from the Council of Europe, we will not bring such joy to them, we will leave on our own."
In addition, he emphasized that Russia will pay its part to the budget of the Council of Europe as soon as the powers of Russia's delegation to PACE are reinstated.
"[CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn] Jagland has no other opportunity in conditions when we don't pay our contributions, to form a budget based on cash receipts," Lavrov said in an interview with Euronews when asked to comment on Jagland's statement that next year's budget would be formed without Russia.
"We reaffirmed officially recently that as soon as our rights are reinstated, we will pay the contribution due to the Council of Europe in full," he said.
In June 2017, Moscow froze part of its Council of Europe contribution meant for Russia's PACE membership for 2018, until the Russian delegation's rights in the organization are completely restored.
Since 2016, the Russian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has not been renewing its credentials ahead of the assembly's sessions in protest of the discrimination within the organization.