Riigikogu speaker criticizes Russia PACE voting rights restoration ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas (EKRE).
President of the Riigikogu Henn Põlluaas (EKRE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Riigikogu speaker Henn Põlluaas (EKRE) said Thursday that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) should demand that the Russian Federation, whose full voting rights on the assembly were restored in May, respect human rights.

Speaking at the PACE in Strasbourg, France, Põlluaas said that when the move to restore Russia's full rights was made, it overrode a core Council of Europe (CoE) principle, that of protecting universal human rights.

Russia's voting rights had been suspended after the 2014 annexation of the Crimea and the ongoing insurgent war in eastern Ukraine began.

"Russia has committed aggressive acts against Ukraine and refrained from following internationally negotiated guidelines to resolve the conflict," Põlluaas said, according to a Riigikogu press release.

"We need to keep the pressure on the perpetrator and demand the violations of the basic human rights in Eastern Ukraine to cease."

Põlluaas said that the agreed framework of international law is supposed to provide a safety net of trust, applied universally by each member state.

"Equality before the law encourages a small state to instinctively trust the principle of the rule of law, and to believe in active international cooperation. This trust can be easy to lose," Põlluaas said.

Põlluaas added that that Russia's systematic destabilising and aggressive behaviour affects not only its neighbours, but the whole Euro-Atlantic region.

"We have to unite our efforts to counter this gravely dangerous development," Põlluaas continued.

"We are under obligation to consolidate our Common European Home. Nobody is going to do it instead of us," he added, noting that the PACE decision in June did nothing to serve justice to those countries facing aggression, or towards efforts to solve frozen conflicts.

Põlluaas later noted on his social media account that Russian representatives at PACE had walked out of the chamber when he was making his speech.

Põlluaas is in Strasbourg to take part in the European Conference of Presidents of Parliament, on Thursday and Friday.

The future of the assembly is on the table, with other topics including the UN Sustainability Action Plan, and the role that national parliaments can play in fighting what it says is ever-intensifying harassment and hate speech directed at female politicians and parliamentarians.

Põlluaas is also pencilled-in to meet with the Presidents of the Nordic and Baltic parliaments (NB8), as well as a bilateral meeting with the President of the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament, Dmytro Razumkov.  

The PACE comprises representatives of 47 national parliaments. The CoE itself predates the European Union and is unrelated to that body.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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