The European Commission for Democracy through Law (the Venice Commission) says the illegal annexation of Crimea does not oblige the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to deny credentials to the Russian delegation to the Assembly,

That's according to the Venice Commission's report on the implications of inclusion of a not internationally recognized territory into a nationwide constituency for parliamentary elections, published on the Council of Europe's website.

"While there exists a clear obligation under international law not only for all States, but also for international organisations not to recognise an annexation, either explicitly or implicitly, this does not necessarily oblige the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to deny credentials to the delegation of the annexing State," the report reads.

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The experts add that "other options should be possible. The PACE might consider increasing its range of such options for the future."

This is the main conclusion of the Venice Commission's constitutional legal experts.

The report deals with elections in nationwide constituencies as opposed to elections of parliamentarians who represent specific electoral districts. It was prepared upon the request of the PACE’s Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs in the end of June 2019, in the context of challenging the credentials of the Russian delegation to the PACE on the procedural grounds.

The credentials remain challenged until the opening of the 2020 PACE session, when all member States, including Russia, will have to submit the lists of their new delegations.As reported, the PACE suspended the voting rights of the Russian delegation in April 2014 due to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

When deciding whether to ratify or refuse credentials of a delegation composed of MPs who have been elected in a nationwide constituency which comprises a territory that is not recognized internationally as forming part of the annexing state, the impact of the inclusion of the annexed territory on the final results of the election should be examined, paying due regard to the principle of proportionality.