The Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) has voted for the restoration of Russia’s voting rights with 118 votes in favor of the resolution and 62 against. 10 parliamentarians abstained.
This decision paves the way for Russia's return to PACE and the country promised to send a delegation for Tuesday's sitting. Four members of Russia's delegation fall under EU's personal sanctions and are banned from entering EU, but will still be able to join the delegation as sanctions do not apply to international organizations.
The Parliamentary Assembly started the current session on June 24, with celebrations of PACE’s 70th anniversary in Strasbourg, France, and will last until June 28.
Monday’s sitting lasted almost nine hours, as parliamentarians debated and went through over 200 amendments one-by-one. Only one amendment was approved.
The opinions were divided – even between representatives from the same countries – UK representative Roger Gale strongly criticized Russia’s actions, stressing the importance of PACE not giving in to Russia’s blackmailing, whilst other representatives focused on the rights of Russian citizens to go to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Russian citizens are the ones to file the most cases with ECtHR out of all 47 member states.
Other delegates stressed the importance of Russia’s contributions which make a substantial amount of PACE’s budget. At present, Russia owes 66 million euros to the Council of Europe. The country halted payments to the organization in 2017 and extended the pay freeze in January 2019.
READ MORE: Council of Europe Set to Bring Russia Back
Russia’s voting rights were suspended after their illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in April 2014. The Organization condemned the annexation as a “clear contradiction of the Statute of the Council of Europe” but did not suspend the Russian delegation entirely in an effort to maintain dialogue.