Russia reacts to Council of Europe suspension

Without Russia, the Council of Europe will lose its “pan-European” identity, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said

Moscow will consider a response to the decision by the Council of Europe to suspend its membership, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said. In a statement on Saturday, Moscow denounced the move as “openly political.”

“Responsibility for this destruction of legal and humanitarian space on the continent” of Europe lies with those who instigated the procedure of Russia’s suspension, the statement said. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova added that “without Russia, the Council of Europe will lose its pan-European identity and eventually even the reason to exist.”

The move has become “yet another piece of evidence [showing] that the Council of Europe has lost its independence and turned into an obedient instrument” of the West, Zakharova said, adding that the international body has been immersed in “double standards.”

Moscow has accused the Council of Europe of keeping silent for the eight years that followed the 2014 coup in Ukraine and saw the post-coup government persecuting people in the Donbass. When Russia came to their aid, the international body rushed to join the “chorus of Russia’s accusers,” the ministry added.

The damning statement came a day after the Council of Europe approved a motion to suspend Russia’s rights of representation in the institution. The body was formed after World War II to protect human rights and the rule of law across Europe.

The decision came in response to a large-scale military operation launched by Russia on Thursday, which, according to the Kremlin, was aimed at “demilitarizing” and “de-Nazifying” Ukraine.

The majority of Western nations have condemned the “unprovoked” and “unjustified” attack and imposed new sanctions on Russia.

Russia’s suspension from the council also prompted the former Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, to suggest a “final review” of Russia’s relations with the nations that have imposed restrictions against Moscow.

The ex-president slammed the council’s move as a “flagrant injustice,” but added it could still be considered as a good reason “to finally slam the door and forget about these meaningless almshouses forever.”

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