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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Council Wavers on Sanctions




BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly Wednesday moved away from a threat to suspend immediately Russia's membership over the Chechen war and appeared likely to give Moscow a further three months to meet human rights demands in the breakaway republic.


The assembly is scheduled to vote on Chechnya on Thursday at its headquarters in Strasbourg, France.


A vote to suspend Russia's membership would be the first time the assembly has taken such action against a member nation for almost 20 years and would be seen as a symbolic blow to Russian aspirations for closer ties with European institutions.


However, instead of proposing an immediate suspension of the 36-member Russian delegation, the assembly's political affairs committee submitted a report giving Moscow three more months to show progress toward ending the Chechen conflict.


The committee's report called on Russia to stop attacks on civilians, open cease-fire talks with Chechen authorities and allow access to Chechnya for international monitors and news media.


Failure to respect those conditions would "inevitably necessitate" a review of Russia's membership in the Council of Europe when the assembly next meets in April, the report warns.


"If there is no progress by April, there will be a grave situation in terms of their membership," the report's author Lord Judd said in a telephone interview from Strasbourg.