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Russia’s assuming the rotating presidency of the Security Council in April has been eliciting a range of reactions from academics, UN experts and others. Some are suggesting, for starters, that the country must be kicked out of the body for violating the UN Charter in its illegal war in Ukraine, or at least be boycotted by the 14 other Council members during April. Western allies in the Council considered such a plan among themselves but decided against it as it could lead to other members openly criticizing the boycotting countries. Ukraine is planning not to attend Council meetings in April, if possible. Yet an informal meeting, led by Russia on April 5, is apparently featuring Maria Lvova-Belova as a briefer, albeit remotely. She is wanted by the International Criminal Court, along with President Putin, for allegedly kidnapping Ukrainian children. In the spokesperson’s briefing on March 31, a reporter asked the deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq: “The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, will be in New York as you know chairing at least two meetings of the Security Council. [In April] One of them is called the maintenance of international peace and security, effective multilateralism through the defence of the principles of the UN Charter. . . . Will Guterres speak at that event. . . . ?” Reply: “One should not be surprised to see the Secretary-General attend that event as he does for each presidency when there is a keynote or highlighted event, the Secretary-General often participates.” The Russian envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, will hold a press briefing on April 3 to explain his country’s objectives in the Council for the month. (Watch live, UN WebTV.)
On Wednesday, a civil-society movement called on Council members to also boycott the body, saying, “if 7 out of 15 Security Council member states join the boycott, Russia won’t be able to get anything passed.” The group, Atlas Movement, is leading a protest of Russia’s Council presidency on Saturday, April 1, in front of 10 Downing Street (the British prime minister’s base), London, from 4 to 6 P.M. — DULCIE LEIMBACH