Council of Europe delegates voted Tuesday to delay action on a proposed rule change which could restore Russia's voting rights, stripped in 2014 after Moscow's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.
During a plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), delegates sent the proposal back for further committee study by a vote of 99 to 79, with 16 abstentions.
Russia has denounced the council's decision. In late June 2017, Russia said it was suspending part of its 33 million euro ($38 million) annual contribution to the 47-member body over its non-participation in PACE.
Commenting on PACE's decision, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Tuesday, Russia's return to the rights body's parliamentary assembly is "unlikely" in 2019. PACE "once again did the bidding of the Russophobic minority," said Leonid Slutsky, as reported by Russian news agency TASS. "The discussion of the report on the rights of national delegations demonstrated how strong destructive attitudes in Strasbourg are," he added. "PACE once again demonstrated its weakness and ceded position in the face of the anti-Russian hysteria."
The proposed rule change would have made it harder to sanction a country's delegates in case of "serious infringement of the Council of Europe's fundamental principles." And even if such infringements were found, countries would nevertheless be able to propose judges for the European Court of Human Rights. The measures were seen as a way of placating Moscow by allowing it to present a new council delegation in January. But the vote is now postponed indefinitely and, after two years of nonpayment, Russia could be formally excluded from the council by its executive committee.