The Russian Federation “committed grave violations of the Council of Europe Statute incompatible with the status of a member State, does not bear its undertakings before the Council of Europe and does not comply with the commitments before it”. Therefore, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) considers that the Russian Federation “can no longer be a member State of the Organisation”.
In the Assembly’s opinion, the Committee of Ministers should request the Russian Federation “to immediately withdraw from the Council of Europe”. If the country does not comply with the request, the Assembly suggests that the Committee of Ministers “determines the immediate possible date” from which the Russian Federation would cease to be a member.
The text, based on the report prepared by Ingjerd Schou (Norway, EPP/CD) and adopted unanimously at the end of an extraordinary plenary session, expresses solidarity with Ukraine, the Ukrainian people and PACE’s Ukrainian members, reaffirming “unwavering support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders”.
The Assembly is deeply disturbed by evidence of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation, including attacks against civilian targets and humanitarian corridors, “indiscriminate use of artillery, missiles, and bombing” as well as hostage taking. It notes with shock the “reckless attacks” by Russian armed forces on nuclear facilities in Ukraine. Accordingly, it supports “all efforts aimed at ensuring accountability”.
The parliamentarians applauded the generosity and solidarity shown by neighbouring countries, who continue to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees, most of them women and children, while in the Russian Federation anti-war protests are harshly repressed, freedom of expression and assembly curtailed, and almost all independent news organisations closed.
In the event that the Russian Federation ceases to be a member of the Organisation, the Council of Europe should, according to PACE, envisage initiatives to be able to continue “to support and engage with human rights defenders, democratic forces, free media and independent civil society”.
In view of the participation of Belarus in the aggression, PACE Bureau should “suspend relations” between the Assembly and the country’s authorities in all its activities.
At the end of the sitting, PACE President Tiny Kox stated: “we are sad that today we had to ask to expel a State which has been a member of our Organisation for over 25 years, but I’m glad that we dared to do it. There is no place in this Organisation for those who cross red lines.”
On 10 March last, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to consult the Assembly on potential further measures to be taken, after suspending the Russian Federation's rights of representation under Article 8 (*) of the Organisation's Statute on 25 February in response to "serious violations" of its statutory obligations as a member State.
According to Article 8, any member of the Council of Europe which has seriously violated Article 3 may be suspended from its right of representation and requested by the Committee of Ministers to withdraw under Article 7. If such member does not comply with this request, the Committee may decide that it has ceased to be a member of the Council from such date as the Committee may determine.