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A man holds a placard depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel smiling, and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipe-line, during a rally in front of the German embassy in Kiev, on April 11, 2019. – Demonstrators held an action demanding to stop Germany’s attempts to lift sanctions against Russia and to increase pressure to release detained Ukrainian. Russia has detained or condemned at least 97 Ukrainian political prisoners on the territory of the Russian Federation and the occupied Crimea, as well as more than 120 prisoners of war and civilian hostages in the occupied Donbas. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)
Photo by AFP
Here’s how Russia’s return to a key European international body is a nightmare for every fighter with autocracy across the continent.
Last week was emotionally challenging if you follow Russia. Watching my friends and colleagues in Moscow, alongside hundreds of protesters in support of Russian political prisoners, being clobbered, hunted down and thrown into police vans was hard to process. Sorting through new messages of disappearing queer people in state-sanctioned violence in Southern Russia was hard to process. Tracking down the victims of new wave of terror against Muslim minority of Crimean Tatars in the Russian-occupied Crimea was difficult to fathom. But what was even harder to understand is why would we want to reward the Russian authoritarian regime of Vladimir Putin for such behavior? Because the upcoming vote at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to invite Russia back is exactly that — a big pass for Putin on human rights crimes.
Russia was sanctioned and suspended from PACE in 2014 for invading and annexing parts of Ukraine. The Kremlin has made zero efforts to undo the sanctions since then: aggression and occupation of neighboring Ukraine and Georgia continues, the Russian elections are being rigged (now complemented by Russian meddling with democratic elections around the world) and human rights violations are systemic and brutal. Yet, a new pending vote at the PACE session on June 24-28th will allow Russians to come back. The idea of ‘forgiving’ Russia is championed by the Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and is backed by France and Germany.
Michael Novakhov – SharedNewsLinks℠