Russia has hit back at the International Criminal Court (ICC) with a probe of its own, targeting officials of the global judicial organ after it issued warrants of arrest issued against their country’s President Vladimir Putin for war crimes.
The move signals defiance of the arrest warrant issued three days ago against President Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights Maria Lvova-Belova for the war crime of deporting children from Ukraine to Russia.
"The Russian Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against ICC Prosecutor Karim Ahmad Khan and ICC judges Tomoko Akane, Rosario Salvatore Aitala, and Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godinez," the committee said.
According to them, the case against the prosecutor was opened on charges of criminal prosecution of an innocent person with illegal charges of committing a grave crime.
"The criminal case is knowingly unlawful since there are no grounds for bringing them to criminal responsibility," the committee stressed.
It added that in accordance with the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons dated December 14, 1973, heads of state enjoy absolute immunity from the jurisdiction of foreign states.
‘Enemy’s work against Russia’
Speaking at Russia’s Interior Ministry Board meeting, Putin said attempts to influence Russian society from within were one of the enemy's key activities.
"Certainly, any attempts of adversaries and their agents on our country’s territories aimed at rocking our society must be harshly suppressed. This activity is one of the key areas of the enemy's work against Russia," Putin said.
The ICC's move obliges its 123 member states to arrest President Putin and extradite him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot in their territory.
He is set to visit South Africa in August for the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa alliance) Summit and the expectation is that the Southern African country will effect the arrest.
Ukraine says more than 16,000 children have been illegally transferred to Russia or Russian-occupied territories since the war started nearly 13 months ago.
Russia has publicly said it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia in what it presents as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and abandoned children in the conflict zone.