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Russia Hails Restoration of Its Council of Europe Voting Rights

FILE - Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky speaks during a press conference in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, Feb. 25, 2014.

Russian officials are hailing the decision by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to ratify credentials of the country's delegation, restoring Russia's participation five years after the country was stripped of voting rights.

But seven countries including Ukraine said Wednesday that they were recalling their delegations from the assembly's session in protest.

Russia lost its vote in the assembly of Europe's oldest human rights organization because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Prominent Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky said restoration was ``a first significant step toward the countries of the Council of Europe recognizing Crimea as Russian.''

Ukrainian delegate Leonid Yemets published on Facebook a statement by the Estonian, Georgian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovakian and Ukrainian delegations saying ``CoE is losing the trust of the people it stands to protect.''