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Russia tries to rejoin UN Human Rights Council

Russia wants to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) more than 15 months after it was expelled for invading Ukraine, according to a renewed pitch it has given to member nations.

Russia was kicked out of the UNHRC in April last year during an emergency special session called by the UN months after the invasion began.

There were 93 votes cast in favour of the move, 24 against it and 58 abstentions. Officials said the kicking out of Russia signalled the international community’s “strong censure of Moscow’s aggressive actions towards a neighbouring State”.

The country that has been isolated from the world stage after Vladimir Putin’s invasion is now circulating a position paper to UN members as an effort to court them for their support, reported the BBC.

Moscow has promised to find “adequate solutions for human rights issues” and claimed it will prevent the council from becoming an “instrument which serves political wills of one group of countries”, in an indirect reference to the West, the report said.

According to the diplomats, Moscow claims it will restore its international credibility at the UN after its forces and regime have been consistently accused of human rights abuses in Ukraine and within its own borders.

The UN, in a statement from April last year after the move, issued a “grave concern” over human rights issues in Ukraine.

“By the text, the Assembly expressed its grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, noting that the violations were of such a degree that the Russian Federation must forfeit its membership in the intergovernmental body until such time as a review is considered appropriate,” the official statement read.

The Russian Federation had instrumentalised its place on the UNHRC “to spread lies almost daily”, the Ukrainian delegate had told the session.

Independent UN-backed human rights experts said they have brought up continued evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, including torture – some of it with such “brutality” that it led to deaths – and rape of women aged up to 83 years old.

Members of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine also expressed concerns about allegations of genocide by Russian forces and said they’re looking into them.

The team said its evidence showed crimes committed on both sides, but vastly more abuses – and a wider array of them – were committed by Russian forces than by Ukrainian troops.