MOSCOW, January 28. /TASS/. If Russia pulls out of the Council of Europe, and thus from the European Convention on Human Rights, the Russian public will still have the right to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) under all lawsuits lodged prior to the severance of ties with that institution, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s (upper house of parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev told reporters on Monday.
"Even our withdrawal from the convention and terminating cooperation with the court won’t leave us outside the jurisdiction of the court that arose when Russia was part of the convention and the court’s activity," the senator explained. "Which means that all suits submitted under the Russian dossiers - more than 10,000 - will be looked into all the same," Kosachev pointed out.
The Russian legislator also mentioned one more aspect. "Theoretically, we withdrew in 2019, and theoretically a suit may be lodged against Russia in 2025 concerning developments in 2014 or in 2004 or even in 1998. These suits will also be entertained," the senator said.
Russia and the Council of Europe
In April 2014, the Russian delegation to PACE was stripped of its key rights, including the right to vote and take part in the assembly’s governing bodies, following the developments in Ukraine and Crimea. The issue of restoring the Russian delegation’s rights was raised at PACE twice in 2015, but instead the sanctions were only tightened.
The Russian delegation said it refused to work under these conditions and from 2016 to 2018, it refused to file a request to confirm its powers. It also suggested adding a provision to PACE’s regulations stipulating that no one has the right to strip deputies of their rights, except for those who elected them.
On October 10, 2018 Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland told the PACE autumn session that the organization's Committee of Ministers will have to expel Russia from the Council of Europe if the country does not make any monetary contributions. In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia would leave the Council of Europe on its own volition if its opponents in this organization insist on Moscow’s expulsion.
In January, the State Duma unanimously adopted a draft statement, which suggested not sending the Russian delegation to the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in January 2019, and sticking to the decision to freeze Russia’s membership fee payments to the Council of Europe. A parallel statement came from the Federation Council.
Kosachev said earlier that the Committee of Ministers is unlikely to launch the procedure to expel Russia immediately after July 1. He emphasized that this possibility would emerge after July 1, 2019, but "this procedure would not be launched automatically." According to the senator, "the qualified majority of two-thirds in the Committee of Ministers is required." The Committee of Ministers is made up of people "who represent the leadership of respective countries, heads of state and government," and "the level of responsibility" is much higher in it. That is why the procedure won’t be launched right after July 1, 2019, the senator noted, adding that in this case Russia "should not be in a hurry" to leave the Council of Europe.