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Russia issues arrest warrant in retaliation against International Criminal Court prosecutor


May 20, 2023

The Kremlin has opened a criminal case against the prosecutor and several judges of the International Criminal Court in an apparent act of retribution for the arrest warrant issued by the court against President Vladimir Putin.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a Telegram post on Saturday that British prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan had brought «an innocent person knowingly to criminal responsibility, combined with the unlawful accusation of a person of committing a serious or especially serious crime.» serious».

The statement said that Khan, along with judges Tomoko Akane, Rosario Salvatore Aitala and Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godinez, had «delivered illegal decisions» in arresting President Vladimir Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, his presidential commissioner for children’s rights.

«Criminal prosecution is obviously illegal, as there are no grounds for criminal liability,» the statement said, adding that Khan had tried to complicate international relations.

The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Putin and Lvova-Belova in March for allegedly overseeing the illegal abduction and deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.

Preliminary judges had assessed that there were «reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility» for the deportations, the court said in a statement at the time.

Ukraine is not a member of the court, but has given it jurisdiction over its territory. After the arrest warrant for Putin was issued, the court said Khan had visited the country four times since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, when he opened his investigation into attacks on critical civilian infrastructure and residential buildings, and the alleged deportations.

The United States does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction, and Moscow formally withdrew its signature from its founding charter in November 2016, a day after the court released a report classifying its annexation of Crimea as an occupation.

The issuance of the arrest warrant against Putin was largely a symbolic move designed to force countries that recognize the court’s jurisdiction to turn the Russian president over to the court if he enters their territory.

In reality, however, Putin remains unlikely to be arrested given the international principles of immunity from arrest that exist for heads of state or presidents.

It is also unlikely that Khan will be arrested.

Since the first days of the invasion of Ukraine last February, kyiv has accused Moscow of forcibly transferring children and adults to Russian territory.

Russian officials have consistently denied the allegations, calling them a «fantasy» aimed at discrediting Moscow. The Russian embassy in the United States said in February that the country had taken in children who had been forced to flee the fighting.

The United Nations has also carried out investigations into Russian attacks on civilians in Ukraine, including torture and systematic killings in the occupied regions, citing them among potential issues amounting to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

The Russian Investigative Committee’s announcement came a day after the country’s Foreign Ministry barred 500 Americans, including former President Barack Obama, from entering Russia.

It came in response to the latest round of 300 US sanctions against individuals, entities, vessels and aircraft for “widely [restrict] categories of key goods for the battlefield.