International

Expel Russia from Council of Europe: Ukraine PM

Kyiv, Mar 14 (UNI): Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Monday urged the Council of Europe to expel Russia from its ranks at the human-rights body.

Addressing parliamentarians from across Europe at an emergency meeting of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Shmyhal said, “The right to life is one of the key fundamental rights and today at the centre of Europe this right is being violated every minute and every second.”

He said that Russia does not deserve to be a member of Council of Europe where “in this single European family where human life is the highest value”. He pointed out that the world has “finally opened its eyes” to Vladimir Putin’s real intentions while the Russian forces are “behaving like terrorists”.

“They bombard schools, kindergartens, hospitals. They kill children. They take hostages. They kidnap representatives in the local authorities. They torture civilians,” he added.

While Russia had announced last week that it would leave the organisation after being stripped of its voting rights, no country has ever been expelled from the human rights body, founded in the ashes of world war two in 1949, The Guardian reported.

Criticising the organisation for reinstating Russia’s voting rights in 2019, the PM said the decision to bring Russia back “showed a poor understanding by the world of the real threat that Putin’s regime is” and also that Europe had chosen “the road of pacifying the aggressor rather than defending the values of democracy, the rule of law, of human rights”.

In the virtual address, he reiterated Ukraine’s pleas for a no-fly zone, which the NATO countries have refused till now. He said, “We are asking – we are demanding – to close the skies over Ukraine for the sake of millions of people in Ukraine. For the sake of European and world security.”

Citizens in Crimea were being forcibly conscripted into the army of the “enemy state”, The Guardian quoted him as saying. He said, “Today the Russian government is mobilising the residents of Crimea to the armed forces of Russia, forcing people who are to be protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention to serve in the armed forces of the enemy state.

“Russian military pilot is dropping bombs on his own mother. It’s hard to believe that, but even such crazy thing have become a normal life for the aggressors.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksky was earlier scheduled to address the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe but he pulled out due to “urgent unforeseen circumstances” and asked the prime minister to take his place. The Council of Europe will be taking its decision on Russia’s future in the organisation on Tuesday.

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