STRASBOURG, April 10 (RAPSI) - The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has deprived the Russian delegation of its right to vote until 2015 in connection with Crimea's recent accession to the Russian Federation.

During its Thursday session, PACE rejected four amendments proposing that Russia should be stripped of all privileges within PACE, but approved an amendment aiming to exclude Russia from the ruling bodies of the Assembly.

The document also proposed depriving Russia of the right to send observers to elections.

Crimea, a largely Russian-speaking republic within Ukraine, was part of Russia until it was given to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954. Putin said in an official address to federal and regional officials that the decision was made with clear violations of the constitutional standards at the time.

Crimea moved for independence from Ukraine after having refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government that came to power following the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich in February.

On March 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as an independent state.  The same day, the leaders of Crimea and the city of Sevastapol and Putin signed a treaty unifying Crimea with Russia.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that the decision to accept Crimea to the Russian Federation was based on the free will of the people of Crimea as expressed during the referendum, which complies with the international law.