Russia out of Council of Europe

Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe (CoE) is finished after 26 years.

And that means Russia is no longer bound by the European Convention on Human Rights and its citizens may no longer seek justice for human rights in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Amnesty International described the exit as “a tragedy for the victims of the Kremlin’s human rights abuse,” saying “some of the last safeguards against human rights abuses will be off limits to those who need them most in today’s Russia.”

On March 15 both Russia and the CoE took action to sever their relationship.
Russia informed the Council of its withdrawal just as the CoE’s Parliamentary Assembly voted unanimously to support expulsion
On March 16 the CoE committee of ministers officially expelled Russia. Two weeks earlier the pan-European human rights body suspended Moscow’s rights of representation following the invasion of Ukraine.

On March 17 the CoE followed up with action against Russian ally and neighbour Belarus – suspending all relations with Belarus “as a result of the country’s active participation in the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine” and suspending the rights of Belarus to participate in all meetings and activities of the CoE as well as all technical co-operation.
The CoE said it wanted to maintain and enhance relations with Belarusian civil society and the opposition in exile.

Belarus was not a CoE member state – for many years known as the only European country without membership because its human rights record and retention of the death penalty made it inadmissible – but it did have observer status to attend and participate without a vote in many CoE policy committees and CoE activities.

The 47 member states of the CoE have worked since its founding in 1949 to protect the rule of law and human rights.
Russia joined on 28 February 1996 and is only the second country ever to leave the human rights body – Greece withdrew in the late 1960s when it was under military dictatorship but rejoined in 1974.

Council of Europe expels Russia
Amnesty International deplores tragedy
Russian statement on withdrawal
Impact of exit
CoE suspends Belarus
Russia signals withdrawal