Europe's top human rights body will consider suspending Russia's membership in retaliation for Moscow's refusal to withdraw its forces from the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and to retract its 2008 recognition of the two territories as independent states.
Seventy delegates from the 642-member Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) signed a motion that lists a litany of grievances against Russia. Initiated by the chief of Denmark's PACE delegation, Michael Jensen, the motion calls for reconsideration of the Russian delegation's credentials in response to Moscow's alleged persistent failure to meet the organization's Georgia-related resolutions. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Counter to PACE requests, the signatories argue, "not only has Russia refused to withdraw its unilateral recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but it has established military, legal and diplomatic links with [the] de facto regimes." It also notes that Russia is in "blatant breach" of the European Union-brokered ceasefire deal that required Moscow to pull its forces back to pre-conflict positions. Hundreds of Russian troops are stationed in both breakaway territories. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Discussions of the motion will begin on September 28, according to the PACE website. A majority vote is required for passage. As a rule, 150 to 200 delegates attend the debates. If adopted, the decision would deny voting rights to PACE's Russian delegation.
Signatories include delegates from some of Russia's longtime sparring partners -- Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. There are also representatives found on the list that come from countries with warmer ties with Moscow, including Germany, Italy and Turkey.
Georgia, surprisingly, is not among the signatories. Its support for the measure, though, is strong. One Georgian delegate to PACE, Chiora Taktakishvili, told EurasiaNet that the campaign is a manifestation of the Assembly's growing frustration with Russia. "Not only has Russia spurned the past resolutions, but openly says that it has no intention to honor them in the future," Taktakishvili said.
While some PACE members want to punish Russia, there is another group that believes isolating Russia will not help the situation, Taktakishvili said. "The success of the motion depends on which of these two views prevails during the debates," she said.