MOSCOW – Moscow may soon leave the Council of Europe, depriving Russians of what activists call the last hope for justice and crushing efforts to integrate the country into the international rights framework.
Russia has been under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights — overseen by the continent’s top rights organization — for more than 20 years, becoming its biggest purveyor of cases.
But after the 2014 annexation of Crimea ties between Moscow and the Council of Europe reached a crisis point, and Russia may quit the rights body or be suspended this year, activists and observers warn.
“For Vladimir Putin, Council of Europe membership is certainly seen as being part of the civilized world and an exit has always been considered an unwelcome scenario,” said Tatyana Stanovaya, head of R.Politik, a Paris-based analysis firm.
“However there may not be another way out in the current circumstances.”
A Russian departure — dubbed “Ruxit” by the council’s secretary general Thorbjorn Jagland — would have far-reaching consequences.
Campaigners warn of a potential intensification of a clampdown on civil society, worsening abuse of prisoners, a new wave of emigration, and a possible reinstatement of the death penalty.