French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech at the Council of Europe Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019 in Strasbourg, eastern France. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

France backs Russia's presence at European human rights body

October 01, 2019 - 5:01 am

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron has strongly advocated for Russia's presence at the Council of Europe, the continent's key human rights organization, despite its 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

In an address Tuesday to the Strasbourg, France-based body's assembly, Macron stressed it "allows Russian citizens to defend their rights at the European Court (of Human Rights) against their government."

The Council of Europe, made up of 47 countries, allowed Russia to start voting again this year, five years after its rights were suspended over its annexation of Crimea.

Macron also met with Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, who was freed after five years in a Russian prison last month following a prisoner exchange between those two countries.