Estonian FM urges Council of Europe to fire Russian citizens still on staff

Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).
Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

One year after the Russian Federation was expelled as a member, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) is calling for the dismissal of Russian citizens still on staff at the Council of Europe.

"I fully recognize the Council of Europe (CoE) for being the first international organization to expel the aggressor state that completely disregards international law," Reinsalu said in an official letter sent to CoE Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric and Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, president of the CoE's Committee of Ministers. "At the same time, we cannot do only part of the equation."

The Estonian minister highlighted as problematic the fact that even a year after the organization decided to expel Russia from its ranks and the latter's war of aggression in Ukraine is still ongoing, Russian citizens continue to work at the Council of Europe.

"This clearly damages the credibility of the organization tasked with upholding and enhancing our common values, human rights, democracy and rule of law," he said, adding that the security risks this entails cannot be underestimated.

Reinsalu highlighted reports that the father of Igor Nebyvajev, executive secretary of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval), a permanent monitoring body of the CoE, is a general in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).

The international community must make every effort to raise the cost of this aggression until it becomes unbearable for Russia, he stressed.

"Consistently reducing Russia's influence and role in the international arena contributes to this, he said. "We cannot forget that in Russia's war, Ukraine is fighting for not only its [own] state and freedom but also for the security of Europe and the values we cherish."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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