Russia on Wednesday ceased to be a member of the Council of Europe after over a quarter of a century of membership in the pan-European rights body after 26 years of membership.
In a hugely symbolic moment, the flag of Russia was lowered and removed from its staff outside the Council of Europe headquarters in eastern France while the flags of the 46 remaining member states were kept flying.
Meanwhile, the Russian foreign ministry said it had “no regret” about leaving and claimed that EU and NATO member states had turned the organisation into an “instrument for anti-Russian policies”.
On Tuesday, the council’s Parliamentary Assembly had agreed that Moscow could no longer be a member of the body, hours after Russia announced it would pull out.
The leaders of the Council of Europe, including Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric, said in a statement that Russian authorities were depriving “the Russian people of the benefit of the most advanced human rights protection system in the world”.
Russia was suspended from all its rights of representation a day after tens of thousands of troops entered Ukraine on February 24.
This move by Russia is the second time in the history of the council that a member state announced its exit, after Greece walked out temporarily in the late 1960s.