memorandum by Mr Schennach, rapporteur
On 21 March 2014, two motions for a resolution with
regard to the credentials of the Russian delegation were tabled.
The first one (Doc. 13457
), signed by 74 members, requested the Parliamentary
Assembly to reconsider, on the basis of Rule 9.1.a
the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly, the ratified credentials
of the Russian delegation on substantive grounds. Condemning “without
reservation the violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty
of Ukraine by the armed forces of the Russian Federation in early
March 2014”, and expressing their “gravest concern that members
of the upper House of the Russian Parliament unanimously authorised
such action in advance”, the signatories expressed their conviction
that there had been a “serious violation of the basic principles
of the Council of Europe mentioned in Article 3 of, and the preamble
to, the Statute”.
The second motion on the suspension of the voting rights of
the Russian delegation (Rule 9 of the Rules of Procedure of the
Assembly) (Doc. 13459
) was signed by 53 members. In particular, the signatories expressed
their serious concern about “the persistent failure by the Russian
Federation to honour its obligations and commitments” as demonstrated
by the “actions of Russian military forces in the Crimean peninsula,
as well as explicit threats of military action in the rest of Ukraine’s
territory”. Furthermore, they stressed that, “the use of armed forces
on the territory of Ukraine was authorised by the Federation Council
of Russia on 1 March 2014.”
3 In accordance with Rule 9.2 of the Rules of Procedure, the
Bureau of the Assembly, at its meeting on 7 April 2014, proposed
to refer both motions to the Monitoring Committee for report and
to the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional
Affairs, for opinion. The reference was confirmed by the Assembly
at the opening of the second part-session.
4 I was appointed rapporteur by the Monitoring Committee at
its first meeting during the part-session, on 7 April 2014. It was
agreed that, in order to satisfy the requirements of the accelerated
procedure, a draft report and resolution would be submitted for
the committee’s consideration and adoption already on 8 April 2014.
5 It seems appropriate to stress that my mandate is specifically
limited to the issue of the already ratified credentials of the
Russian delegation; namely whether they should be confirmed, annulled
or confirmed subject to restrictions as foreseen in Rule 9.4.a, b or c, in the light of recent developments
which are referred to in the tabled motions.
6 This report will therefore not deal with the situation in
Crimea and will only refer to developments in Ukraine if directly
relevant to the assessment of the actions undertaken by the authorities
of the Russian Federation and their compliance with the obligations
and commitments resulting from membership in the Council of Europe.
7 It should be mentioned that a specific report on the situation
in Ukraine, prepared by the co-rapporteurs on this country will
be presented by the Monitoring Committee for debate under urgent
procedure during the current part-session of the Assembly. Whenever
relevant, I make reference to this report.
8 Needless to say, I am not mandated with the overall assessment
of Russia’s compliance with its obligations and commitments, which
is the task of the co-rapporteurs on Russia. Therefore, I only refer
to the obligations and commitments which are directly relevant to
the subject of this report.
of concern with regard to the action of the Russian Federation
9 From November 2013, following the unexpected decision
of President Yanukovich not to sign an association agreement with
the European Union in Vilnius, huge protests took place on a daily
basis in Kyiv and other regions of Ukraine. These demonstrations
have cost over 80 lives. On 21 February 2014, in an attempt to calm
the situation, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of France, Germany
and Poland, in the presence of Mr Lukin for the Russian Federation,
brokered a compromise providing, inter
alia, for an early presidential election in December
2014. On 22 February 2014, however, President Yanukovich disappeared.
The Verkhovna Rada consequently voted by a two-thirds majority:
a) to go back to the 2004 constitutional amendments; and b) to impeach
President Yanukovich. On 23 February 2014, The Verkhovna Rada elected an
acting President and, on 27 February 2014, a new interim coalition
government was formed in Kyiv. An early presidential election is
scheduled for 25 May 2014. This put an end to three months of anti-government
protests and bloodshed.
10 While the overwhelming majority of the international community,
including the European Union, the United States and the United Nations
recognised without reservation the new Ukrainian authorities, the Russian
Federation refused to do so, calling the new government “illegitimate”
and declining any direct dialogue. The impeached president Yanukovich
who re-appeared in the Russian Federation on 28 February 2014, was
allowed to organise a press conference during which he announced
that a “coup” had taken place in his country and requested the Russian
11 I am confident that in their report the co-rapporteurs on
the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Ukraine will make
an in-depth and balanced analysis of the developments with regard
to the functioning of democratic institutions in this country, and
I am not going to interfere with their task. I am sure that they
will take fully into account the complexity of the situation, and
assess the actions – and perhaps mistakes – committed by the new
transitional Ukrainian authorities.
In this report, however, I wish to point out that during that
very difficult time, from the very beginning of the establishment
of the new authorities in Kyiv, and even before, the Russian authorities
spared no effort to discredit – by means of unjustified accusations
– the fragile political consensus. In particular, they made numerous
statements which – despite the lack of any material evidence – persistently
referred to the “fascist” and “neo-Nazi” nature of the Ukrainian
Government and the forces which had brought it to power, accusing them
of actions which have subsequently not been confirmed and thus fuelling
the fears of the Russian-speaking population.Note
13 In his address on 18 March 2014 to both Chambers of the Russian
Parliament, President Putin said: “Nationalists, neo-Nazis, anti-Semites
and Russophobes were the main executors of the coup, and even today they
largely determine life in Ukraine”.
14 Likewise, many Russian officials have referred to the alleged
violence and threat of violence against the Russian-speaking population,
as well as alleged cases of human rights and minority rights violations.
The groundlessness of these serious accusations, which were generalising
isolated cases and marginal behaviour, has been demonstrated by
abundant evidence provided by the national and international civil
society and organisations including the Organization for Security
and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as well as by independent journalists
and declarations of those concerned.
15 To illustrate this pattern, I would like to draw attention
to the statement made by the Russian representative, Mr Vitaly Churkin,
at the United Nations Security Council at its extraordinary meeting
held on 3 March 2014 in which he cited an alleged attack on the
famous Monastery of the Caves in Kyiv that was widely reported in
the Russian media. However, even prior to this statement, the monastery’s
authorities had said that no attack had taken place.
16 Replying to the questions about alleged anti-Semitism during
the protests in Ukraine, Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi, Yakov Dov Bleich,
said on 4 March 2014 that the main threat to Ukrainian Jews was
“provocation” staged by Russia, adding that “the same way the Nazis
did when they wanted to go into Austria and they created provocation”.
17 Most recently, the groundlessness of these accusations has
been confirmed by the ad hoc report of the Advisory Committee on
the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of
National Minorities, which carried out an ad hoc visit to Ukraine
from 21 to 26 March 2014, following the decision of the Committee of
Ministers taken on 14 March 2014, in order to review, in the light
of recent developments, the situation of national minorities in
Ukraine. In its conclusions, the Advisory Committee stated that
it “observed no immediate threat to the enjoyment of minority rights
in the current situation in mainland Ukraine”. It expressed, however, concern
“about the negative impact of some media coverage, at national and
international level, on inter-ethnic relations in Ukraine. The regular
and, based on the delegation’s assessment, frequently unsubstantiated reports
on ongoing human and minority rights violations in Ukraine raise
tension and fears among the population that are not conducive to
calming the overall environment and are particularly unhelpful in
the current pre-election context. The situation requires the immediate
attention of national and international actors to avoid further
escalation”. These conclusions of the Council of Europe’s own monitoring
mechanism must raise the utmost concern.
18 The statements of Russian officials have been completed by
biased coverage of the situation by the Russian State-controlled
media, including public television. From the outset of the demonstrations
in Kyiv, the Russian media in general concentrated on raising anxiety
among Russian-speakers, convincing them that “the fascist revolt”
targeted the Russians and Russian-speakers and that is why the “protection”
of Crimea, which is populated by a majority of Russian-speakers,
19 Russian State television has gone to great lengths to manufacture
an image of the protests as a far-right extremist movement with
the ultimate goal of destabilising Russia. Again, to illustrate
this manipulation I would like to refer to the report aired by the
Russian television channel “ORT” on 1 March 2014, showing hundreds of
thousands of Ukrainian refugees that had reportedly fled to Russia.
In an interview, a Russian Federal Border Guard Service official
said that an estimated 675 000 Ukrainians had already fled Ukraine
and that they feared a growing humanitarian crisis. However, the
pictures of queues at the border used to illustrate these claims
turned out to be routine queues at the Ukrainian and Polish border,
Shegni-Medyka. There has been no trace of these alleged “refugees”
since The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said there
has been no evidence of unusual migration on the border but the
television channel has never rectified its misleading “information”.
Ukraine’s Commission on Journalism Ethics has filed a complaint
in Moscow against a particularly dishonest Russian television journalist,
20 It has to be stressed that this unjustified reducing of the
popular democratic movement in Ukraine to a “Nazi-inspired revolt”
by Russian officials and the State-controlled media has largely
contributed to the escalation of confrontation on the Crimean peninsula,
where the ethnic factor was of particular importance.
21 Against this background, since the establishment of the new
authorities in Kyiv, widespread military movements of units from
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, headquartered in Crimea, including tanks
and helicopters, could be observed. They were soon complemented
by the growing presence of heavily armed soldiers in uniforms without
insignia, who occupied public buildings and on 27 February 2014
stormed the region’s parliament. Their equipment and obvious military
discipline were in clear contradiction to the claims that they were
self-defence units. There is much evidence to confirm that these
soldiers without insignia were in fact Russian military forces.
It is in the presence of these heavily armed men that, on
28 February 2014, the Parliament of Crimea replaced the Prime Minister
by Sergei Aksyonov, a pro-Russian extremist whose party in the 2010
regional elections gained 4% of the votes cast. On 1 March 2014,
the newly appointed Prime Minister of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, said
publicly that troops from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet were already
deployed across the peninsula to guard strategically important sites,Note
thus confirming the crucial importance
of Russian military action in the developments in Crimea. On 6 March
2014, the Crimean Parliament decided to organise a referendum on joining
the Russian Federation, in clear breach of the Crimean and Ukrainian
Constitutions. On 11 March 2014, it declared independence from Ukraine.
23 I will not dwell here on the sequence of events which have
led to the so-called referendum; I am confident that these are exhaustively
reflected in the report on Ukraine. I fully share the co-rapporteurs’
conviction that the “popular uprising” in Crimea was directed from
24 Regrettably, some members of the Russian Parliament have played
an important role in this process, visiting Crimea already in February
2014 and contributing to the destabilisation of the situation. Our
colleague from the Assembly, Mr Leonid Slutsky, who heads the Duma
Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with
Compatriots, arrived in Crimea as early as 24 February 2014 and
promised publicly that his government would protect Russian-speaking
25 Referring to the draft law allowing for a simplified citizenship
procedure for Ukrainian citizens of Russian descent, submitted to
the Duma by his party (Liberal Democratic Party) a few days earlier,
he promised – in front of the cameras – passports to all Russian-speakers.
Moreover, he said publicly: “With regard to affiliating Crimea to
Russia, if this is the position of the referendum or of the Supreme
Council of Crimea, we will study the situation, and we will study
it rather fast. If the Crimeans announce their decision, we could
work together to find common ground and practical steps to implement
it”. This statement was delivered prior to the decision of the Crimean
Parliament to conduct an illegal referendum.
Sergei Mironov, member of the Duma, leader of the opposition
party Just Russia, and the initiator of a controversial draft law
on admitting new subjects to the Russian Federation, which he submitted
to the Duma on 26 February 2014 with a view to facilitating Crimea’s
Sevastopol on 27 February 2014. On a separate visit the same day,
a number of high-profile Russian parliamentarians, including boxing champion
Nicolai Valuev, former figure skater Irina Rodnina and the first
woman in space Valentina Tereshkova, arrived in Sevastopol and met
pro-Russian demonstrators, not numerous at that time yet reported as
“a few dozen” in the Russian media. It was also reportedNote
that the speakers at the rally “condemned
the incoming regime in Kyiv as fascist and called for Russian intervention”.
27 Furthermore, on 1 March 2014, the leaders of Russia’s Upper
and Lower Houses of Parliament called on President Putin to “stabilise”
the situation in Crimea and protect Russian citizens. The Speaker
of the Upper House, Ms Valentina Matviyenko, said that the use of
military force could be justified “on the request of the Crimean
Government”. Mr Sergei Naryshkin, the State Duma Speaker said that
“all available means should be deployed to protect Russian citizens”.
28 On the same day, Russia’s Upper House of Parliament unanimously
approved a request from President Putin submitted a few hours earlier
to deploy military forces on the pretext that there was a threat
to the lives of Russian citizens and military forces located in
naval bases in Ukraine’s southern peninsula. This Council of Federation
decision came amid reports of large Russian troop movements in Crimea.
The Kremlin announced that troops would remain deployed until the
“political-social situation in the country is normalised”
In reaction to the Federation Council’s decision, Ukraine’s
interim President, Oleksandr Turchynov, announced that he considered
Russia’s conduct a “direct act of aggression against the sovereignty
The Ukrainian authorities
accused Russia of trying to provoke conflict and called on the Kremlin
to call all soldiers back to Russian naval bases on the Black Sea
30 The threat of military intervention and the increasing military
build-up in Crimea continued during the whole run-up to the so called
referendum, despite the condemnation from world leaders, who expressed
their deep concern about the Russian troop movements and warned
that the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity
would be deeply destabilising and would have serious consequences.
31 The declaration of the independence from Ukraine by Crimea’s
Parliament on 11 March 2014 and the subsequent so-called referendum
of 16 March 2014 were considered illegal, illegitimate and irrelevant
by the overwhelming majority of the international community, including
the individual governments of many Council of Europe member States,
the European Union and the European Parliament, the Secretary Generals
of the United Nations and the OSCE. Russia was warned by a number
of countries, including the European Union, that the outcome of
the referendum would not be recognised and Russia’s stance on Ukraine
would be sanctioned.
The Council of Europe voiced its position condemning the referendum
in several statements by the Ministers’ Deputies (27 February 2014,
14 March 2014, 20 March 2014 and 3 April 2014), and in the declarations
by the President of the Assembly of 17 and 18 March 2014. The European
Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) adopted
an opinion in which it clearly considered the planned referendum
as unconstitutional and illegal.Note
33 On 15 March 2014, Russia vetoed a United Nations Security
Council resolution declaring the upcoming referendum on the future
status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea invalid and urging all
States not to recognise its results. Thirteen other Security Council
members voted in favour, China abstained.
34 Intensive diplomatic efforts by European and American leaders
to reverse the process of annexation by stopping the Russian military
build-up and action which undermined and threatened the territorial
integrity of Ukraine have failed so far. The OSCE observer mission
was denied entry into Crimea on 6 March 2014, the United Nations
Secretary General‘s Special Envoy to Crimea was forced to cut his
mission short following violent threats against him. The Russians
persistently rejected any proposals for a dialogue with Ukraine
or the establishment of a contact group. They turned down the proposal
by the United States Secretary of State of 5 March 2014 to de-escalate
the conflict, to withdraw forces to their pre-crisis numbers, to
disarm the so-called self-defence militias and to dispatch international
monitors to Crimea and other parts of Ukraine with the task of protecting
Russian and other minorities from alleged violence. The Russian
side has never, throughout the whole conflict, tried to avail itself
of any available intergovernmental mechanisms to find a peaceful
and negotiated solution in respect of its bilateral and multilateral
35 Russia has remained indifferent to the calls of the international
community and it actively supported the preparation and conduct
of the so-called referendum, which was not only in contradiction
with domestic and international law, but in no way complied with
the guidelines for the organisation of this kind of consultation. Carried
out under occupation and in circumstances entirely contradictory
to democratic process, it cannot be considered as reflecting the
will of the population of Crimea. It is particularly regretful that
a Russian parliamentary observation mission led by Mr Slutsky found
no violation with regard to the so-called referendum.
36 Despite the overwhelming condemnation of the so-called referendum
and rejection of its results, on 17 March 2014, President Putin
signed a decree recognising Crimea as an independent State.
37 In protest of Russia’s support of Crimea’s actions, the European
Union, the United States, Canada and some other countries imposed
sanctions against senior Russian officials, including visa bans
and asset freezes. It is the first time that the European Union
has imposed sanctions on Russia since end of the Cold War. The European
Union earlier suspended visa liberalisation and trade talks in a
first round of sanctions.
38 On 18 March 2014, President Putin addressed both Houses of
the Parliament, as well as Heads of Russian regions and representatives
of public organisations at a special assembly in the Kremlin. In
his address, punctuated by loud applause, he justified his decision.
He said that the transition period for the breakaway region’s fully
joining Russia will last until 2015.
39 Later that day, the Duma adopted a statement, approved by
all fractions, welcoming the Crimean people’s decision to join the
Russian Federation and calling the referendum “a free demonstration
of the people’s will”.
40 On the same day, the Russian President and the leaders of
Crimea signed a treaty on joining.
41 On 19 March 2014, following a formal request by President
Putin to assess the constitutionality of the agreement signed on
18 March 2014, Russia’s Constitutional Court held an emergency session
during which it unanimously ruled that the treaty reunifying the
Ukrainian breakaway region of Crimea with Russia was lawful and
complied with the Russian Constitution.
42 Later that day, the Duma voted to ratify the treaty by 443
votes in favour, one against and no abstentions. During the same
session, President Putin submitted to the Duma a draft federal constitutional
law detailing the conditions for acceptance of the two new subjects
(Crimea and the City of Sevastopol) into the Russian Federation.
The upper house voted in favour of the treaty on 21 March 2014.
43 This whole process of illegal annexation involving Russian
political institutions and politicians was accompanied by an increased
crackdown on the freedom of expression and suppression of the few
remaining independent media, trying to be heard over the flood of
propaganda produced by the State-controlled media. On 12 March 2014,
Galina Timchenko, the Editor of the popular independent Russian
news website Lenta.ru was fired after running an interview with
a member of the Ukrainian nationalist group Right Sector. Many of
the website’s reporters resigned in protest, saying in their statement:
“The trouble is not that we’ve lost our jobs. The trouble is that
you’ve got nothing to read.”
44 The only independent television station, Dozhd, which had
covered anti-government protests in Kyiv without bias, was dumped
from all major cable networks in February, news websites were blocked,
the General Director of the liberal radio Ekcho Moskvy, Yuriy Fedutinov,
45 On 14 March 2014, the Prosecutor General ordered the blocking
of a number of high-profile Internet sites for allegedly making
“appeals for illegal activity and participation in mass events organised
in violation of the established order”. The blocked sites included:
Grani,ru; Kasparov.ru; EJ.ru; the Moscow Echo radio station website
and the LiveJournal.com website, which host many popular blogs including
one by a famous anti-corruption crusader, Mr Alexeï Navalny. The
sites that have been targeted are those that offered independent information
and alternative views, including details on the referendum.
The detention of hundreds of anti-war protesters on 1 and
2 March 2014 was another manifestation of the increasing crackdown
on the freedom of expression and assembly in Russia. On 3 March
2014, a Moscow court ordered the detention of two protesters for
five days on administrative charges. Amnesty International considered
them to be “prisoners of conscience”.Note
protesting against Russian military intervention in Ukraine were
arrested in front of the Ministry of Defence and on Manezhnaya Square. Several
dozen people were detained in St Petersburg.
47 Any criticism was eliminated as demonstrated by the case of
Professor Andrey Zubov, who wrote a column in the newspaper Vedomosti on
1 March 2014 comparing Putin’s potential annexation of Crimea with the
annexation of Austria in 1938. On 3 March 2014, he was fired from
his post at the University (MGIMO).
48 Despite this overwhelming propaganda, there is some opposition
in public opinion to the annexation of Crimea, as shown by the demonstrations
of 1 and 2 March, and 15 March 2014, when thousands marched in Moscow.
49 On 26 March 2014, the Council of Europe Congress of Local
and Regional Authorities adopted a declaration on the situation
in Ukraine in which it stated that “it did not accept the validity
of the referendum, held on 16 March, without the minimum democratic
guarantees that should be in place for any vote. This pseudo-consultation
should on no account pave the way for a change of borders between
Russia and Ukraine. The Congress therefore condemns Russia’s annexation
of Crimea and Sebastopol in violation of international law”.
50 On 27 March 2014, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly
passed a resolution calling the Crimean referendum to secede from
Ukraine invalid and condemning the Russian annexation of Crimea. One
hundred countries voted in favour, 58 abstained and 10 backed Russia,
a result which once more demonstrated Russia’s isolation in the
international arena over its action in Ukraine. The ten votes which opposed
the resolution came from Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua,
North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. To great surprise,
the Russian representative to the United Nations proclaimed the vote
to be a “victory” at a press conference, saying: “The result is
rather satisfying for us as we have won a moral and political victory.
It clearly shows that Russia is not isolated.”
3 Concerns for the
51 The present situation of minorities in Crimea under
the Russian occupation raises the utmost concern. In its ad hoc
report, the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the
Protection of National Minorities pointed to “grave and immediate
concerns regarding the safety and access to rights of persons belonging
to the Crimean Tartars”. It also stressed the need for an international
presence to monitor the evolving situation on the ground in Crimea.
52 There has been, and continues to be, a steady and noticeable
build-up of Russian armed forces along the eastern border with Ukraine
close to the areas inhabited by the Russian-speaking population.
United States and European security agencies estimate that Russia
has deployed military and militia units totalling more than 30 000
people; a continuing influx of Russian forces along the Ukraine
border can also be observed. Although Russia has a right, legally,
to have its troops on its own soil, it does not, however contribute
to the appeasement of the situation and may be considered as an
effort of intimidation if not a direct threat of further dismembering of
53 On 28 March 2014, in his statement broadcasted by the public
Channel Rossiya 24 News, the ousted President Victor Yanukovich
called on the regions of Ukraine to hold a referendum in place of
the upcoming presidential election on 25 May 2014, thus undermining
the democratic efforts undertaken by the country and fully supported
by the Council of Europe. It is regrettable that the Russian public
television serves as a platform for this irresponsible action.
54 Biased information and statements by Russian officials continue
to stir anxiety among Russian speakers in Ukraine. The proposals
made by the Russian diplomacy concerning the creation of an international
“support group” which would “help the country to elaborate a new
constitution, conduct a referendum and then organise nationwide
elections”, along with statements on the need for the federalisation
of Ukraine, must raise concern about the real intentions of the
55 There is understandable anxiety in some Council of Europe
member States which have large Russian minorities within their borders.
I have no doubt that they will follow the debate on the Russian
credentials very carefully: if using the false pretext of the need
to protect a minority can go unpunished even in the “House of Democracy”,
it is a bad prognostic for their future.
56 The Republic of Moldova is one of the countries most concerned.
The Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border are felt as a
threat to Transnistria, a Russian-speaking breakaway region that
declared independence from the rest of the Republic of Moldova in
57 On 26 March 2014, at a meeting in Moscow with a delegation
from Gagauzia, Mr Leonid Slutsky praised an illegal referendum on
integration with a Moscow-led Customs Union, conducted in this autonomous
region of the Republic of Moldova a month earlier, calling it “a
timely event”. “We fully approve of the poll”, he said.
4 The obligations
put into question
58 The actions of Russian military forces in Crimea,
the recognition of the results of the illegal so-called referendum
and the subsequent annexation of Crimea into the Russian Federation
constitute, beyond any doubt, a violation of international law,
including of the United Nations Charter and the OSCE Helsinki Final
Act. The launch of military action by Russia was in violation of
the Budapest treaty signed by Russia, the United States, the United
Kingdom and Ukraine in 1994.
They are also in clear contradiction with the Statute of the
Council of Europe, in particular its Preamble and the obligations
resulting from Article 3 as well as with the commitments contained
in Assembly Opinion 193 (1996)
, undertaken by the Russian Federation upon accession
to the Council of Europe.
60 Explicit threats of military action, using false arguments
and making groundless accusations aimed at destabilising the country
and violating its sovereignty and territorial integrity are incompatible
with the principles and values governing this Organisation, which
stands for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
61 Statements by Russian top officials, who, by generalising
isolated incidents, contributed to political instability in a neighbouring
country that was desperately trying to overcome its difficulties,
should not have happened in a Council of Europe member State.
62 In this context, the role played by the members of both chambers
of the Russian Parliament raises particular concern. The unanimous
vote in the Upper House of the Parliament authorising the use of
armed force on the territory of Ukraine calls for a firm reaction
by the Parliamentary Assembly. Likewise, the unconditional approval
of the different steps leading to the annexation of Crimea – adoption
of the constitutional amendments, ratification of the treaty on
joining, readiness to adopt any law facilitating illegal annexation
– must all be strongly condemned. As should the statements by Russian
Members of Parliament, particularly at the very early stages of
the conflict, which contributed to the illegal process.
63 Misleading propaganda and manipulation by the Russian State-controlled
media, including public television, elimination of any criticism
of official policies by suppression of freedom of expression and
freedom of assembly, constitute other serious violations on the
part of Russia.
64 All the violations evoked in paragraphs 58-63 of
the present memorandum may have very serious consequences for stability
and peace, not only in Ukraine but also in other neighbouring countries,
and, indeed, in Europe as a whole. All the Council of Europe member
States are concerned.
65 The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe not only
represents the shared values of respect for the rule of law, human
rights and democracy, but also a means of political dialogue among
member States. The concerns of Ukraine, but also of every member
State, must be taken seriously. Therefore, the proposal to establish
an investigative committee – whilst making it clear that a member
State has exceeded the limits of those shared values – will also
leave the door open for political dialogue, which is the most developed instrument
of parliamentarians. We hope that with set deadlines and the possibility
of review, we can rely on the strength of political dialogue and
not return to the old pattern of confrontation.
66 At the same time, in order to mark the Assembly’s condemnation
and disapproval of the Russian Federation’s actions with regard
to Ukraine, I propose that the Assembly resolves to confirm the
ratification of the credentials of the Russian delegation, whilst
suspending its voting rights until the end of the 2014 session, as
foreseen in Article 9.4.c of
the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure.