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Council of Europe assembly suspends Russian members

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - Russia was suspended from the parliamentary assembly of European human rights watchdog the Council of Europe on Thursday in protest at Moscow's behavior towards Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. The 18 Russian parliamentarians who were suspended will not be able to vote in the 318-head assembly, have representation in its main committees or take part in its election observation missions.

British attorney general warns EU of legal action

Britain will not hesitate to take legal action against attempts by the EU to grab more powers that are alienating people across Europe, the British attorney general will say in a speech in Brussels on Monday. Dominic Grieve was to say that he is "frankly astonished" by what he said were efforts by the EU's executive arm, the European Commission, to override the rules of the 28-member bloc. His comments come against a backdrop of growing tension between Brussels and an increasingly eurosceptic Britain, over issues ranging from immigration to free trade and bureaucracy.

EU welcomes Hollande's commitment to Europe

The European Commission welcomed Friday French President Francois Hollande's "deep commitment" to Europe and looked forward to seeing promised proposals to boost the flagging EU. "We hail the deep committment of France and the French authorities to Europe," a European Commission spokesman said of Hollande's comments Thursday that he would take the initiative to end Europe's "lethargy" and promote a closer political union within two years.

Roma under fire in crisis-hit EU: Council of Europe chief

Europe's Roma are paying a high price amid the spiralling economic crisis, the head of the Council of Europe said Tuesday, warning that many more were likely to head westward as conditions deteriorate in the East. "Minorities in Europe are coming under a lot more pressure than they have in a long time," Thorbjoern Jagland said in an interview with AFP ahead of an address at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. "The tensions are really growing," he said, speaking in his native Norwegian.

Turkey urged to speed up reforms of anti-terrorism law

By Jonathon Burch ANKARA, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Turkey must speed up its reforms of legislation such as the sweeping anti-terrorism laws under which dozens of journalists have been jailed, the head of the Council of Europe said on Tuesday. Since coming to power in 2002, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has earned praise for reforms aimed at bringing the EU candidate nation closer to European Union norms and for liberalising an economy that has seen unprecedented prosperity.

Europe calls on Turkey to improve on freedom of speech

The head of a pan-European rights body on Tuesday called on EU hopeful Turkey, which has more jailed journalists than any other country in the world, to improve its dismal record on freedom of expression. "There are still 450 cases pending against Turkey in the freedom of expression" domain before the European Court of Human Rights, Council of Europe chief Thorbjorn Jagland told a conference in Ankara. "This is simply too much," he said, adding that "the need for action is evident".

Council of Europe alleges torture in Russia's N.Caucasus

By Gilbert Reilhac STRASBOURG, France, Jan 24 (Reuters) - The Council of Europe on Thursday accused Russian authorities of inflicting electric shocks, asphyxiation and other tortures on prisoners in an effort to suppress an Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus. Its report was released after Russia for the first time authorised the publication of findings gathered by the council's committee on torture on a 2011 trip to Chechnya, Dagestan and North Ossetia.

German parliament group warns Britain against "blackmail" on EU

* Britain wants to renegotiate EU ties, repatriate powers * PM Cameron has threatened to use veto on EU * German parliament Europe committee criticises plan By Mohammed Abbas LONDON, Jan 10 (Reuters) - The head of the German parliament's influential European Union Affairs Committee warned Britain on Thursday against trying to "blackmail" other countries in its push to fashion a new relationship with Europe.
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