Ukrainian lawyers and human rights activists, together with Western colleagues, are collecting evidence of Russian war crimes. Ukrainians who have similar certificates can join this.
Complete evidence base
The International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC) opened the collection of evidence of the crimes of the Russian army in Ukraine on March 2. Then 42 countries applied to the ISS with a corresponding request. The ISS prosecutes those responsible for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. ISS Prosecutor Karim Khan first came to our country on March 16. By the end of July, he had already visited Ukraine three times.
“Of course, I am focused on making the investigation effective, not slow. However, it will continue until we can collect evidence. And this is important to know not only the team that is doing this. I hope that we will act with dignity and honesty in such a way as not to disappoint the victims and victims,” he said in an interview with Ukrainian journalists.
However, the speed of such processes can be judged, at least, by the fact that the ISS issued warrants for the arrest of three suspects of war crimes in Georgia in 2008, including two citizens of the Russian Federation, only in June of this year. True, according to Bloomberg, the ISS intends to put forward the first accusations of possible crimes against the Russians a little faster – already this winter. The publication also writes that representatives of Ukraine are negotiating with the ISS on the transfer to the court of Russian prisoners of war, allegedly ready to testify against the Russian Federation.
Ukraine is trying in every possible way to speed up the collection of evidence about the war crimes of the enemy. The Prosecutor General’s office has been investigating since the first day of the war. In March, a joint investigation team was created for this, in particular, with the participation of the ISS. Its work is supported by the EU agency for cooperation in the field of criminal justice, about fifty experts of the EU Advisory Mission are working on this, foreign experts are cooperating with local law enforcement agencies.
As Chairman of the Supreme Court Vsevolod Knyazev emphasized, the possibilities of the ISS are limited, and this institution will not be able to consider tens of thousands of crimes committed on the territory of Ukraine. Therefore, the ISS should focus on the consideration of cases relating to the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation. At the same time, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry also believes that the top military-political leadership of Russia should appear before the ISS and answer for every crime committed, this will be the Nuremberg Trials of the 21st century.
At the same time, Ukrainian courts could consider all other cases related to war crimes. Convicts may be held in places of detention in other countries. And even if Russia does not carry out the sentences of the Ukrainian courts, as soon as these individuals cross the border, they should be detained and transferred to serve their sentences.
On June 17, the Office of the President of Ukraine created a special information system, the Book of the Executioners of the Ukrainian People. The book contains verified information about Russians who committed war crimes on the territory of our country, as well as evidence of these actions.
According to Andrei Smirnov, deputy head of the President’s Office, in the future this information will be used to prove crimes in international courts or special tribunals. The book can be filled by Ukrainians themselves by going to the appropriate site. Every citizen of Ukraine who has become a victim of aggression by the Russian military can provide additional information that will be used to record the fact of a crime, form a charge and pass a sentence.
The project page contains, in particular, the data of Russian generals – the commander of the grouping of Russian troops in Ukraine Alexander Dvornikov, the commander of the airborne forces Andrey Serdyukov, generals Alexander Lapin, Vladimir Kravchenko and others.
“Investigations have just begun and will continue until the last executioner is found. Everyone involved in crimes against the Ukrainian people will be here,” the website of the Book of Executioners says.
Political and legal assessment
According to the information released by the lawyers of the ZMINA Human Rights Center, war crimes are: premeditated murder and infliction of grievous suffering; torture and inhuman behavior; rape; destruction and appropriation of property not caused by military necessity; compelling civilians or prisoners of war to serve in the armed forces of the Russian Federation; use of the population as “human shields”; deportation to Russia or to territories occupied by it; kidnapping and illegal arrests of civilians; taking hostages; attacks on military personnel who have ceased to participate in hostilities; perfidious use of the uniform or insignia of the opposing army, the emblem of the Red Cross; use of prohibited weapons (eg cluster munitions); the use of toxic substances; attacks on religious and cultural institutions; looting of public and private property, etc.
If you carefully re-read this list, it becomes quite clear: it was fully embodied by the Russians on Ukrainian territory in almost six months of the war. Of the latest horrifying cases – the probable execution of prisoners of war “Azov” in Yelenovka and the castration of another of our soldiers and his murder by two executioners – the military of the Russian Federation, recorded on video and made public by the Russian telegram channel.
On July 29, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stressed: Ukraine strongly condemns the brutal war crimes committed by the Russian military against Ukrainian prisoners of war, and calls on the Office of the Prosecutor of the ISS to immediately pay attention to the atrocities.
“According to the Rome Statute, such actions can also be qualified as crimes against humanity. We call on the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to immediately pay attention to the atrocities of Russian military personnel in the context of the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by citizens of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine,” the statement says. message. in a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
According to political scientist Andrei Piontkovsky, it is absolutely necessary to find war criminals, because such atrocities cannot go unpunished. And this is already partially working: when it becomes known about crimes, they are given a political assessment. As an example, the political scientist cited the well-known triple visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, already ex-Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Kyiv. According to him, they were going to convince the Ukrainian authorities to make territorial concessions to the Russian Federation in order to end the war. However, having visited Irpen, they sharply changed their position.
Therefore, the publication of all evidence of the atrocities of the Russian army in Ukraine should continue to open the “eyes of the world”, the executioners should be punished, and Ukraine should receive all the legal and military support necessary to protect against them.
Speeding up the investigation of such cases is essential. After all, we must not forget that the cup of popular anger may overflow: for example, the fighters of the Azov battalion have already announced a hunt for all Ukrainian prisoners of war involved in the massacre in Yelenovka on July 29.
At the same time, one should not forget about the well-known special operation of the Israeli intelligence Mossad called the Wrath of God, when the Israeli authorities were convinced of the impunity of the killers of 11 members of their team at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Then Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir (by the way, born in Kyiv) gave her military a terrible and fair order: “Let the boys go.” And none of the executioners went unpunished.