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Russian delegation's credentials are challenged at opening of the session

The credentials of the Russian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have been challenged on substantive grounds on the opening day of the winter plenary session in Strasbourg.

Robert Walter (United Kingdom, EC) said he was making the challenge under Rule 8 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure, which refer to “a serious violation of the basic principles of the Council of Europe” and “persistent failure to honour obligations and commitments”. He was supported by at least thirty members of the Assembly present in the Chamber, belonging to at least five national delegations.

The credentials of the 46 other national delegations – which are submitted at the beginning of every year when the Assembly reconstitutes itself – were approved without challenge.

The Assembly will debate the issue on Wednesday afternoon (28 January) on the basis of a report by its Monitoring Committee and must, under Rule 10, vote for one of three options: to ratify the credentials, not to ratify them, or to ratify them “together with depriving or suspending the exercise of some of the rights of participation or representation of members of the delegation concerned in the activities of the Assembly and its bodies”.

The final vote of the Assembly should take place in the early evening on Wednesday.

The members of the Russian delegation may sit provisionally with the same rights as other Assembly members until the Assembly has reached a decision, but may not vote on their own credentials.