Saving Strasbourg. How Russia leads Council of Europe to self-destruction, and what should Ukraine do

Author : Anatoliy Martsynovsky

Source :

Ukrainian MPs could stop working in PACE in January next year, if the Assembly will lift the sanctions against the Russian delegation and recognize its powers
23:45, 10 October 2016

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112 Agency

Ukraine has got already used to the problems in the Council of Europe.

The first appeared back at a solemn reception on the occasion of joining the organization in autumn 1995. Witnesses said that we brought to the Strasbourg Ukrainian wine with typical for that time plastic corks and French waiters tried unsuccessfully to pull them out with corkscrews. One of the Ukrainian MPs rescued them - he showed that corks can be simply cut off.

It was fun. However, further problems were not so funny - from the violation of a moratorium on the death penalty immediately after the entry.

In 2000, our delegation in PACE was nearly deprived of powers because of a referendum Kuchma-Medvedchuk, which was conducted to strengthen the power of the then President. There were always enough scandals with the failure by Ukraine of its obligations and commitments.

But now opposite is true. Ukrainian MPs could stop working in PACE in January next year, if the Assembly will lift the sanctions against the Russian delegation and recognizes its powers. This was stated by the head of Ukrainian delegation Volodymyr Ariev.

The return of the Russians in the session hall really would mean an indirect legitimization of the annexation of Crimea because part of them was elected by voices of the occupied peninsula. Of course, it would be a political crime against the organization, its values and goals.

But do not be surprised.

The Council of Europe has been for a long time in an existential crisis, gradually losing the ability to resist anti-democratic processes in member states, to promote the rule of law there. The organization has not been able to digest the entry of unprepared and frankly not always aimed at the pro-European development the CIS countries into it.

As a result, within the Council of Europe, there was a negative impact of so-called "mini-Soviet Union" with Russia at the head. And to put it mildly, there are also many imperfect Western politicians.

This gradual change of the role and the weight of the organization can be clearly seen on the example of Ukraine.

For us, the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly were once an important arbiter: from the beginning of membership and to the Orange Revolution. The word of Strasbourg sounded weighty during the difficult internal processes and often corrected them - for example, in the upper mentioned case of Kuchma-Medvedchuk referendum.

The multi-year monitoring rapporteur of the PACE Committee for Ukraine Hanne Severinsen we know, perhaps better than some domestic politicians. But this is in the past. The role of political arbiter in Ukraine long time ago has moved to the European Union.

Unfortunately for us, EU is now also in crisis. It's a different story - although the processes and discussions on sanctions against Russia are very similar to those that occur in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

In the interests of the Kremlin - the collapse of the European Union and, of course, the transformation of the Council of Europe into the sham organization, which has no effect and at the same time does not create problems.

In this way a possible future lifting of sanctions from the Russian delegation to PACE - though is not a decisive, but politically important step for Russians.

Last year, the European Council has already swallowed the Russian law allowing not to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights - one of the pillars of the organization. Earlier it had swallowed the Crimean annexation and arranged by the Kremlin war in Donbas.

Speaking frankly, to Russia the European Council has long had to apply Article 8 of the Statute of the Council of Europe, which provides the temporary suspension of the country's representation in the organization. But in Strasbourg is growing trend to validate credentials of the delegation of illegitimate Russian parliament.

It is as if to hand a spade to the grave-digger, who later with this spade will gladly bury the giver and place the flowers on his grave. Or he’ll decorate it with five-pointed star.

For Ukraine, it is important now that the problem and the danger are well understood in Strasbourg. And not only there: PACE deputies are the representatives of the national parliaments and political circles, so to a large extent this issue could be resolved also in the European capitals.

In any case, Kyiv should develop a clear and logical strategy for the case, if all goes according to the worst scenario.

And of course, the suspension of Ukrainian delegation to the Assembly –is one of the natural options.

Because for us it’s a very little sense in such PACE, which will serve as a democratic cover for anti-European authoritarian regimes or legitimize them.

Related: Afanasyev and Zhemchugov to speak in PACE, – Goncharenko

Related: Agramunt officially calls on Russia to return to PACE

Related: Ukraine to turn to PACE, OSCE on illegal detention of Sushchenko, - Parubiy


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