Russia faces Council of Europe sanctions over Crimea

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Russia faces Council of Europe sanctions over Crimea

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Russia could face punishment at the Council of Europe on Thursday over its annexation of Crimea.

Europe’s top human rights watchdog will decide whether Moscow should lose its voting rights.

Members said its actions in Crimea go against the body’s key values.

“The strongest weapon of parliamentarians is to keep talking, to stay in dialogue, but also to say very openly to a member you did something we can not accept, so you get the yellow card,” said Stefan Schennach, an Austrian centre-left MP

Russia joined the Council of Europe in 1996.

In Moscow officials argue that Crimea’s referendum to join Russia was entirely legal.

“I am sure that we will be able this year to convince many of our colleagues that the referendum in Crimea was conducted in accordance with international law and it was a free expression of peoples’ will,” said Russian MP Leonid Slutsky.

But a non-binding resolution passed by the UN General Assembly and supported by 100 countries called the vote “invalid”.

Only 11 nations backed Russia’s stance. Fifty-eight abstained.