Vladimir Putin bears criminal responsibility for forced deportations, ICC chief prosecutor says
International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Karim Khan said there are reasonable grounds to believe Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova bear criminal responsibility for the forced deportation of hundreds of Ukrainian children.
At the time the Ukrainian children were reportedly taken out of their country, they were protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Khan said in a statement Friday.
According to the US and several European governments, Putin’s administration has carried out a scheme to forcibly deport thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, often to a network of dozens of camps, where the minors undergo political reeducation.
“Many of these children, we allege, have since been given for adoption in the Russian Federation,” Khan also said, adding a change of the law in Russia through Presidential decrees issued by Putin had made it easier for the children to be adopted by Russian families.
He called for accountability and for the children to be returned to their families in Ukraine, adding in the statement that “we cannot allow children to be treated as if they are the spoils of war.”
Khan said Ukraine was “a crime scene that encompasses a complex and broad range of alleged international crimes,” explaining that while this was a first step in prosecuting war crimes, he continues to pursue other lines of investigation.
From CNN’s Gul Tuysuz, Svitlana Vlasova and Dima Olenchenko
CNN asked people on the streets of Kyiv their reactions to the International Criminal Court issuing arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova for an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia.
Here’s what they said:
Tatiana Kostiuchenko, 25, massage therapist: “I think Russians will kill Putin before there is a chance for him to stand trial. He knows too much. This is the way they do stuff. The arrest warrant actually gives me a sense of calm. Because it’s like Ukrainians were alone saying all of these terrible things are happening, that Putin is a criminal. But now everyone will say it, know it. The fact that this is because of the children deportation is even better. It highlights the suffering of civilians, especially children. People think war is about two armies but it’s not — civilians are suffering, so many children.”
Dmitro Yukhnoskyi, 29, games level designer: “I don’t know how much power they have to carry it out, but I am glad to see it. It won’t solve the problem, but it is a good start.”
Mykola Strizhak, 22, courier: “I am happy to see this news, but for now it is just words. But I hope it is followed by actions.”
Natalia Saloviova, 68, teacher: “I am happy to hear it, but I am not sure that it will be implemented because he will hide. He will hide. He will go abroad with the help of China maybe or Iran … But I hope, I hope. I want to believe in this.”