Justice Will Prevail: Putin's Path to The Hague
Svitlana Zalishchuk Svitlana Zalishchuk Ukrainian MP

11:08 Nov. 17, 2016

Putin's Path to The Hague

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Getty Images)

Svitlana Zalishchuk, a Ukrainian MP, former journalist and civic activist, explains why Russia's pullout from ICC will not help Putin flee from justice

Whatever the decision Putin makes now on the Rome Statute, it will not change his prospects in The Hague. And here are the reasons why.

Russia signed the Rome Statute in 2000 but never ratified it. So, in fact, Russia was not a party to the International Criminal Court, and anyway did not give "its people" away.

But! 123 countries are the members of this Court. And if The Hague proves the military seizure of Crimea then Putin, as a commander-in-chief, will be the one responsible. And the only chance for him to avoid responsibility is to stay in Russia for the lifetime, provided that the Kremlin regime will never be replaced with a democratic one. Crossing Russia's border into one of the member states will result in his arrest.

What are the chances for a positive verdict of The Hague?

The other day an International Criminal Court's prosecutor published its annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities, which contains a section on Ukraine.

Here are the aspects most important for us:

1. It is put in black and white that Russian military personnel were involved in the seizure of Crimea

2. The situation within the territory of Crimea amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation

3. The situation within the territory of Crimea amounts to an on-going state of occupation

This is not a Court judgment yet, but only the first step for looking into Ukraine situation in The Hague. The current report indicates the future investigation. Furthermore, the decision must be taken that the ICC will conduct a full investigation involving its staff and resources.

The situation with regard to the crimes committed during Euromaidan and in Donbas is different. Ukraine's authorities face a complex task to convince the prosecutor in The Hague, that we have an international, not internal, conflict in the east of Ukraine as well.

And to prove that during Euromaidan the former top officials systematically committed crimes against humanity.

The document, published by the International Criminal Court, leaves these issues open.


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