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Russia’s withdrawal from Council of Europe a tragedy for victims of Kremlin’s abuses

Reacting to the Russian government’s decision to withdraw from the Council of Europe, and its declared intention to denounce the European Convention on Human Rights, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe comes on the heels of its act of aggression against Ukraine, where its troops have committed possible war crimes and serious human rights violations. Though it came ahead of a vote by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe leading to its departure, Russia’s preemptive decision to leave Europe’s principal guardian of human rights and the rule of law and denounce the European Convention on Human Rights is a tragedy for the victims of the Kremlin’s human rights abuses.

Russia’s preemptive decision to leave Europe’s principal guardian of human rights and the rule of law and denounce the European Convention on Human Rights is a tragedy for the victims of the Kremlin’s human rights abuses

Marie Struthers, Amnesty International's Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“Outside the Council of Europe and given the further degradation of Russia’s rule of law, some of the last safeguards against human rights abuses will be off limits to those who need them most in today’s Russia.  

“All stakeholders in Russia, including its legislators, should take steps to oppose this reckless move and prevent the country sliding ever deeper into an abyss defined by a total disregard for human rights.”

Background

During an emergency session on 15 March 2022, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted in favour of Russia’s departure from the organization. Earlier the same day, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE) of the Russian Federation’s withdrawal from the organization, under Article 7 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, as well as its intention to denounce the European Convention on Human Rights.

Earlier, on 25 February, the CoE Committee of Ministers suspended the Russian Federation from its rights of representation with immediate effect as a result of the Russian Federation’s military invasion of Ukraine. The CoE Committee of Ministers described Russia’s actions as “a breach of peace of unprecedented magnitude on the European continent since the creation of the Council of Europe” and a breach of Article 3 of the Statute.

Only one state, Greece, has withdrawn from the Council of Europe, in 1969, during the Regime of the Colonels. In 1974, after the fall of the Greek junta, the country was re-admitted to the Council of Europe.

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