Russia ejected from rights body, loses sports hosting roles, ousted from Eurovision

Council of Europe suspends all representatives of Russia, as International Olympic Committee urges sports federations to move events out of Russia and Belarus

Ambassadors gather at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on February 24, 2022, ahead of a debate on the situation in Ukraine after Russia launched an invasion. (Patrick Hertzog/AFP)
Ambassadors gather at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on February 24, 2022, ahead of a debate on the situation in Ukraine after Russia launched an invasion. (Patrick Hertzog/AFP)

As Russia and its leaders faced a growing number of international sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine, the country began paying other prices Friday, with Moscow being suspended and kicked out of international bodies and events.

The Council of Europe said Friday it was suspending all representatives of Russia from participation in the pan-European rights body. Permanent representatives of its 47 member states “agreed to suspend the Russian Federation from its rights of representation in the Council of Europe,” invoking Article 8 of its statute, a statement said.

The decision takes effect immediately and affects the rights of representation of Russia in the Committee of Ministers and in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

“Suspension is not a final measure but a temporary one, leaving channels of communication open,” the Council of Europe emphasized in the statement.

Russia, a Council of Europe member since 1996, has already in the past been the target of such sanctions — after its annexation of the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in 2014.

Meanwhile, Russia was stripped of the Champions League final, with UEFA replacing St. Petersburg with Paris as host, and Formula One dropped this season’s Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.

The International Olympic Committee also urged sports federations to move their events out of Russia or Belarus, which Moscow is using as a staging ground for its troops moving into Ukraine from the north.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach waves during the closing ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Volleyball, shooting and hockey all have world championships scheduled to be held in Russia. Hockey is a favorite sport of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his home city of St. Petersburg is scheduled to host the world championship in May 2023.

A backlash against the embrace of Russian state-owned companies as sponsors in sports saw Manchester United drop Aeroflot’s commercial deal, with the Premier League club citing “events in Ukraine” after the airline was banned in Britain as part of sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

The European Broadcasting Union said Russian entertainers will not be permitted to take part in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in May.

“The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute,” the EBU said in a statement.

Maneskin from Italy perform Zitti E Buoni after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands, May 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

In addition to barring any Russian act from participating, Russian residents will also be blocked from voting in the competition.

“They are completely excluded from the whole event,” an EBU spokesman told AFP.

EBU said it had consulted widely among its membership before reaching the decision.

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