The lower house of the Russian Parliament, the State Duma, did not vote in favour of sending delegates or paying a contribution of some 30 million euro to the Council of Europe, which is expected to further fuel the tensions with the European Union. Duma’s speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said MPs voted “exclusively in the interests of citizens of our country.” The move could ultimately increase the risk of the exclusion from the European Court of Human Rights after the Kremlin had already suspended part of its funding to the Council in response to the punitive measures following the annexation of Crimea.
Starting June this year, Russia could be excluded from the Council following two years of non-payment. The first suspension came in 2017 when Moscow withheld 33 million euro. If Russia were excluded from the council, it would be first such a case since the organization was created in 1949 and it would mean that Russians could no longer use the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to file their cases.
Since its joining in 1996, Russians have been using the court extensively, with many activists accusing the leadership of violating the European Convention on Human Rights. The court has made decision in prominent cases including opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the Pussy Riot punk band. The Russian leadership commented that they did not “see grounds” for sending a delegation or renewing payment of contributions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said back in 2017 that payments would only be restored after the “unconditional total restoration” of its rights.