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PACE suspends Russia’s right to vote

By Ana Robakidze
Friday, April 11
Georgian MP Tina Khidasheli addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and reminded the delegates about the importance of supporting Ukraine and other countries against Russian aggression.

“Today (April 9th), 25 years ago, the Russian army invaded my city to rout a peaceful demonstration. We had 29 casualties and hundreds of injured and thousands of poised but we still were glad to see the end of the Empire and we believed that the world would fight for peace. Unfortunately, I have the feeling that we are still there, 25 years ago, full of hopes. And Russia, every year, still sends armies to other independent states to occupy them,” Khidasheli said. She added that despite Russia’s attempts Soviet era still ended and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have become independent states.

The Georgian MP believes that Crimea will be back in Ukraine, as well as breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia will be reunited with Georgia.

“Dear colleagues, we shall support the Ukrainian democratic government and make it clear for Russia that in PACE, there is no place for people who vote for the occupation and annexation of independent states,” Khidasheli said.

Another Georgian delegate to the PACE, MP Giorgi Kandelaki form the United National Movement also focused on the annexation of Crimea in his speech. He said that the referendum organized in Crimea was shameful. He drew parallels between the annexation of Georgian and Ukrainian territories by Russian forces. Kandelaki reminded his European colleagues that it is time for Europe to take some actions against Russia.

The Ukrainian crisis has become a major topic discussed by the PACE at its Spring Session in April. The parliament also adopted a resolution on the recent developments in Ukraine. The document condemns the violence in Ukraine and the unconstitutional referendum in Crimea.

“The so-called referendum that was organized in Crimea on 16 March 2014 was unconstitutional both under the Crimean and Ukrainian Constitutions. In addition, its reported turnout and results are implausible. The outcome of this referendum and the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation therefore have no legal effect and are not recognized by the Council of Europe,” the resolution reads.

The Assembly regrets that the democratic changes and political developments in Ukraine have been overshadowed by the developments in Crimea. PACE condemns the authorisation of the Russian Federation Parliament to use military force in Ukraine, Russian military aggression and subsequent annexation of Crimea. The assembly says the Russian Federation violated international law, including the United Nations Charter, the OSCE Helsinki Act and the Statute and basic principles of the Council of Europe.

PACE also made a decision to impose sanctions on Russia and suspended the country’s right to vote in the assembly till the end of the year 2014. On April 10 PACE decided to ban Russian delegates from participating in the work PACE governing bodies and monitoring missions. The Parliamentary Assembly is going to impose more sanctions on Russia unless it reverses the annexation of Crimea.