07:56, June 25 67 0 theguardian.com

2019-06-25 07:56:08
Ukraine walks out of Europe human rights body as Russia returns

The Ukrainian delegation at the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe has walked out in protest after Russian MPs were allowed to return to the human rights body five years after the annexation of Crimea.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he was disappointed by the decision of the assembly (Pace) to readmit Russian members, while the head of the delegation said Ukraine would halt its work at the assembly.

The Strasbourg-based assembly agreed on Tuesday to allow Russian representatives to return to the body, five years after Moscow was stripped of its voting rights over its actions in Crimea.

“I am disappointed by a Pace decision to confirm the rights of the Russian delegation without restrictions,” said Zelenskiy. He said he had discussed the issue with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, last week.

“I tried to convince Mr Macron and Mrs Merkel that the return of the Russian delegation to Pace is possible only after Russia fulfils the assembly’s main demands,” he said in a post on Facebook. “It’s a pity that our European partners did not listen to us.”

Volodymyr Ariev, the head of the Ukrainian delegation, said it decided “to suspend its participation in the work of Pace except issues related to stripping the Russian delegation of its rights”.

He said the delegation had asked the Ukrainian parliament to urgently consider the country’s membership of the assembly. The delegation also asked Zelenskiy to consider the country’s further work at the Council of Europe.