Due to the "unconditional inclusion of Russia's delegates to the Assembly,” the delegations of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Georgia and Slovakia left the proceedings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), its deputy head Włodzimierz Bernacki told the Polish Press Agency, PAP, on Wednesday.
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Mr Bernacki, who was the head of the Polish delegation, noted that all its representatives had left the assembly. He stressed that their decision to leave the session was related to Russia regaining its voting rights in PACE, which was the result of Monday’s voting in Strasbourg.
As a consequence of the declaration adopted in Helsinki on May 17, PACE voted in favour of restoring Russia's full rights in the council. The assembly voted 118 in favour and 62 against, with 10 abstentions.
The delegations are on their way back to their respective countries for consultations regarding this situation with politicians and foreign affairs ministries.
The decision to suspend the Russian delegation’s right to vote in the Parliamentary Assembly was taken on April 10, 2014, as an act of retaliation to the annexation of Crimea by Russia. The Russians were deprived of the right to take up managerial functions in PACE and became unable to participate in the CoE’s monitoring missions.
In response, in 2016, Russia started to boycott PACE meetings, and one year later, the state stopped paying membership fees, suggesting that it may even leave the CoE completely.
Russia has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1996.