Russia exits leading human rights organization after suspension
Russia said it is leaving Europe’s leading human rights organization after it was suspended following its invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry gave the Council of Europe’s Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić a formal letter notifying the group of Moscow’s withdrawal, The Associated Press reported.
The ministry alleged the organization was targeting Russia and said the Russian constitution would protect individuals’ human rights and freedoms in the country, per the AP.
This comes after the Council of Europe on Feb. 25 suspended Russia over the country’s assault on Ukraine. Russia was not fully kicked out of the group at that time, however, and was still under obligation to follow its human rights conventions.
A number of Ukrainian and U.S. officials have accused Russia of committing war crimes in the ongoing conflict, saying Moscow is targeting civilians and structures such as hospitals and schools. Russia has denied the charges.
In recent weeks, Russia has reportedly arrested thousands of anti-war protesters and has passed a law that could punish any journalist who contradicts the Russian government’s official statements on the conflict in Ukraine with up to 15 years in prison.
More than 2.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the invasion began, marking one of the biggest migration crisis in Europe since World War II.