MOSCOW, November 13 (RAPSI) – The Federal Chamber of Lawyers of Russia expressed its concern over a possibility that Russia might withdraw its membership in the Council of Europe in a statement published on its official website on Tuesday.

In the document, the lawyers point out that such a step would directly affect rights and freedoms of the country’s citizens.

The Chamber Council stresses that although lawyers stay out of politics, they have a right to express their position with regard to the prospects of possible change for the worse in the legal status of Russia’s citizens and the sphere of protection of their rights and freedoms. The Council reminds that withdrawal from the Council of Europe means at the same time that Russia will be out of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

According to the lawyers, the range of legal and social consequences of the possible withdrawal hinted at lately by a number of Russia’s officials and politicians, might include the loss of subsidiary control over the criminal justice and penitentiary systems in Russia and the end of the international monitoring of its compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Moreover, the legal situation of the Russian citizens will worsen due to the loss of their right to apply to ECHR, whereas the opinions of the Strasbourg Court’s judges forming common European positions with regard to the human rights protection will cease to serve as points of reference for the improvement of the national legal framework and compliance practices.

The matter of its most serious concern, the Chamber of Lawyers says it the statement, is that after the withdrawal from the Council of Europe Russia will have no incentive to keep its moratorium on capital punishment.

Russian lawyers believe that risks arising due to the withdrawal from the Council of Europe outweigh by far the political considerations the Russia’s leadership follow examining the feasibility of such a step, the document reads.