In a few weeks, two years will have passed since Russia stopped paying its annual contributions to the Council of Europe. Moscow is not concerned with this situation and is ready to leave the organisation. The Council of Europe will ultimately die without Russia.
If Russia leaves, the European Court of Human Rights will bear the greatest negative consequences as it will lose the largest human-rights ‘market’. This will result in a strong blow to the Council of Europe’s prestige.
This message is consistent with the pro-Kremlin narrative about the imminent collapse of Western and European institutions. Examples of the cases following this narrative include: a dying EU promotes an anti-Russian, anti-democratic agenda and NATO is useless.
After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia's voting rights in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) were suspended. In protest, Russia stopped paying its annual contributions to the Council of Europe (CoE) in June 2017.
After two years of non-payment of its contributions, that is from June 2019, Russia could be formally excluded from the CoE through a decision of its Committee of Ministers. It could also opt to leave.
Though Russia's withdrawal would affect the reputations of both the CoE and Russia, there is no good reason to believe that this development would result in the death of the organisation. The Council of Europe includes 47 member states with approximately 820 million citizens. The CoE has functioned previously without Russia as a member state since its establishment in 1949 until 1996 when Russia joined.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is one of the institutions which safeguard human rights in Europe. Even though Russia has the biggest number of cases pending in the Court, the number of cases has nothing to do with the institution's prestige. If Russia was to leave the organisation, Russian citizens would be deprived of the chance to defend their rights at the ECtHR.