Russia is “disappointed” by decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) judges to agree with the submission made by the ICC Prosecutor to authorize investigation into August 2008 war, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“Russia has handed over to the ICC more than 30 volumes of criminal case confirming crimes committed by the Saakashvili regime against the South Ossetian population and Russian peacekeeping forces,” Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on January 29.
“The ICC Prosecutor, however, is accusing South Ossetians, and moreover, also the Russian forces; being actually on the side of aggressor [the ICC Prosecutor] is launching investigation against victims of the attack. One can hardly say that such actions meet ideals of justice,” Zakharova said.
“The Russian Federation is disappointed by the decision of the Court to support position of [ICC Prosecutor] Fatou Bensouda,” she said.
“Russia hoped that ICC would have become important factor in strengthening rule of law and stability in international relations. But we think that it has not happened. In the light of recent decision [of ICC], the Russian Federation will have to consider in principle the issue of our relations with the International Criminal Court,” she said.
The Hague-based International Criminal Court authorized on January 27 its prosecutor to open investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the lead up to, during, and after the August, 2008 war in Georgia.
ICC Prosecutor requested opening of the investigation in October 2015 and identified the following crimes, which she “reasonably believes” fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC:
- “Killings, forcible displacements and persecution of ethnic Georgian civilians, and destruction and pillaging of their property, by South Ossetian forces (with possible participation by Russian forces)”;
- “Intentionally directing attacks against Georgian peacekeepers by South Ossetian forces; and against Russian peacekeepers by Georgian forces.”
Georgia welcomed the ICC’s decision to open the investigation and said that it will continue to “cooperate actively” with the ICC Prosecutor.
Georgia, as a state party to the Rome Statute through which the ICC was established, is obligated to fully cooperate with ICC – something that does not apply to Russia, because it is not an ICC member.