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Russia quits UN tourism body ahead of vote on its suspension


MADRID: The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said on Wednesday (Apr 27) that Russia had decided to quit the international agency just as its member states were preparing to vote on Russia’s suspension over its invasion of Ukraine.

A UNWTO spokesman said that despite Russia’s withdrawal, the assembly would still suspend it as that move would have immediate effects while the formal pull-out process would take a year to complete.

Zurab Pololikashvili, the secretary-general of the Madrid-based UNWTO, said earlier that he hoped members would vote to suspend Russia and show an example to other international organisations.

A two-thirds majority of 160 total member states must back the suspension, which would only have symbolic consequences for Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the decision to quit the UNWTO would not affect the country’s tourism.

“The tourism sector, especially that for domestic tourism, will continue its development. The external directions for tourism are also open, hinging on questions of competition in terms of quality and price,” he said.

He did not elaborate further.

The UN General Assembly earlier this month voted to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council over reports of human rights abuses in Ukraine, prompting Moscow to announce that it was quitting it.

Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists, has denied such accusations. Ukraine and the West say it uses a false pretext for an unprovoked war of aggression by Moscow.

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