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    Lawyers Concluded PACE Decision on Russia Violates CE's Charter - Moscow

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    ATHENS (Sputnik) - Lawyers have concluded that the documents of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which strip Russia of its voting rights, are in breach of the statutory documents of the council, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said.

    "Legal conclusions have been prepared. The conclusion is rather straightforward — it shows the serious non-conformity of the PACE documents with the regulations and rules and the statutory documents of the Council of Europe," Grushko told reporters.

    The diplomat reiterated that stripping Russia of its voting rights in the PACE contradicted the Council of Europe's charter which ensured legal rights for all member states, adding that no real moves have been made in order to reconsider a decision regarding Russia's voting rights in the PACE. 

    "The crisis situation in the Council of Europe has resulted from the illegal decisions which have been made by the PACE back in May 2014. We expected that the common sense would eventually prevail and the decisions which have been made will be reconsidered and the rights of our delegation in PACE will be fully restored. However, five years have passed but we cannot see any real moves," Grushko told reporters.    

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    Grushko continued by noting fundamental divisions between the PACE and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, saying that they should be overcome, because preserving them would mean that any country could face politically-motivated discrimination.

    "Technically, the changes of the PACE regulations which have been made, represent amendments of the statutory documents of the Council of Europe, but they have not been adopted as the amendments … If they were amendments, the consensus and the ratification by every member state would be required," Grushko argued.

    The deputy foreign minister also recalled that 25 out of 43 judges of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, have been elected without the participation of Russia.

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    Grushko maintained that no documents of the Council of Europe ensured the exclusion of any country from the voting on such candidacies.

    In April 2014, Russia was stripped of its voting rights in the pace in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis and Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Since 2016, the Russian delegation has not been renewing its credentials ahead of the assembly's sessions in protest of discrimination it faces within the organization.

    In June 2017, Moscow froze part of its Council of Europe contribution meant for Russia's PACE membership for 2018 until its delegation's rights in the organization were completely restored. The international affairs committee of the lower house of the Russian parliament has recommended that Russia does not send its delegation to PACE in 2019.

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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow sought to remain a member of the Council of Europe and would only withdraw from it if other member states took action to exclude it. The top diplomat has also suggested that the moment of truth in the relations between the Council of Europe and Russia will occur in June when the new secretary general of the organization will be elected.

    Notably, Russia has been involved in adopting the conventions of the Council of Europe despite the row over the PACE voting rights.

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