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This decision to reconsider the Conservative Party’s membership of the European Democratic Group on the Council of Europe was announced today. Labour’s Denis MacShane has for some time criticised the Conservative Party for being part of the group, mainly composed of representatives from United Russia, the party of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. These criticisms have been repeated since the Georgia crisis. The Conservatives released this statement:

“Given the recent events in Georgia, we do not believe that the current arrangement in the European Democrat Group in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly can continue as it is.

“We are already in the process of consulting our partners within the group, such as the Polish Law and Justice Party and the Czech Civic Democrats, about the way forward.”

“We note that the Socialist Group in the Council of Europe, of which the Labour Party is a member, also includes Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s ultra-nationalist Russian Liberal Democrat Party, who has said that the Georgian Prime Minister is ‘seeking’ a ‘mono-ethnic state and a fascist-style dictatorship’ and claimed that following the US-Polish missile agreement Russia was now ‘entitled to carry out a preventive nuclear strike’ against Poland.

“We are interested to hear what action the Labour Party are taking to address this.”

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