Russia can freeze its membership in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and reduce its contributions said deputy head of the State Duma committee for International affairs Alexei Chepa.
Izvestia newspaper, citing several high-ranking sources in the State Duma, said that Russia is considering suspending its participation in the ECHR and reducing contributions to the Council of Europe (CoE).
“Yes, this option is possible,” – said Chepa to RIA Novosti news agency, responding to a question about such prospects. The deputy said that it is premature to talk about the timing of a decision on this matter. “It is based on the actions of European parliamentarians who have been excluding us from all possible platforms for discussion, and why should we participate in this when we are members of an incomplete nature?” – asked the parliamentarian. “Therefore, these are all links of one chain, and such an option is possible,” he summed up.
Izvestia sources in the State Duma told that the fee might be diminished to an amount between USD7 to US10 millions. According to the interlocutors of the newspaper, the final decision on this matter will be taken on October 27, when the first reading of Russia’s budget for 2018 will take place in the lower house of parliament.
As noted by sources, there is a paradoxical situation: the ECHR can make decisions with respect to Russia, and Moscow does not have the opportunity to influence the work of the body. As a high-ranking source in the Duma said, if Russia is not given the right to express its position during the election of ECHR judges, it will stop paying and freeze its membership in the organization.
Deputy chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Federation Council Vladimir Jabarov in an interview with Izvestia called the ECHR’s attitude towards Russia ‘discriminatory’, violating the rights of a sovereign state. According to the senator, many decisions of the ECHR are politicized and unfair. “If the tendentious attitude towards Russia continues, we will freeze the payments and leave the ECHR, and there is nothing to worry about,” Jabarov is convinced.
At the same time, the head of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, said that he does not see legal possibilities for freezing Russia’s membership in the ECHR.
“Russia’s participation in the ECHR is conditioned by Russia’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, which is a basic document related to membership in the Council of Europe, which is why it is purely legally incomprehensible to me what this initiative means, in which case Russia should suspend its participation in the European Convention on human rights and, accordingly, in the Council of Europe as an intergovernmental organization, I personally oppose such a plot, “the senator said. He called on the deputies “not to get excited” by this issue.
Earlier, chairmen of both chambers of the Russian parliament, Valentina Matvienko and Vyacheslav Volodin, criticized the activities of the ECHR, noting that Russia does not fulfill some of the judiciary’s decisions because of their discriminatory nature. The Speaker of the Federation Council threatened that from next year Moscow will ignore the ECHR, whose jurisdiction extends to Russia since May 5, 1998.
A week ago, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that Russia will wait for changes in the regulations of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) before returning to full-fledged work in this organization. The Russian delegation was deprived of the right to vote after the accession of the Crimea. In response, Moscow suspended its participation, and in June it froze the payment of about a third of the contributions to the Council of Europe (about 11 million euros).
Activities of the Council of Europe are financed by members of this international organization. Russia is one of the five main contributors to the coffers of the Council of Europe. The total amount is about 40 million euros and is distributed among five council bodies. The funds are allocated to the work of the PACE, the Committee of Ministers, the ECtHR, the advisory bodies (the Venice Commission, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe) and the secretariat.