by Ambra Visentin

The relevant committees of the Duma are preparing a draft law banning the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Russia, as well as criminal liability for requesting the execution of its decisions. This was reported on the website of the lower house of parliament. The State Council reported that the Chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, held a meeting to prepare amendments to the legislation. The meeting was attended by Deputy Speaker Irina Yarovaya, the head of the Security and Anti-Corruption Committee, Vasily Piskarev, and the head of the Defence Committee, Andrei Kartapolov.

Vyacheslav Volodin explained the reasons for such a move on his Telegram channel in a post entitled ‘The Hague Invasion Law’. In fact, Russia intends to follow the example of the law of the same name adopted by the United States in 2002, according to which ‘no US citizen or ally may be arrested or detained on the basis of an ICC warrant’. Moreover, writes Volodin, the law passed in the US ‘allows Washington to launch a military intervention if US officials, civil servants and politicians are in the dock’.

In 2002, US President George Bush signed into law the American Servicemembers Protection Act (ASPA), also known as the ‘Hague Invasion Act’, designed to intimidate countries that ratify the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty. The act authorises the use of military force to free any American or citizen of a country allied to the US who is detained by the court, which is based in The Hague. This provision provoked a strong reaction from US allies around the world, particularly in the Netherlands.

At present, Russia does not apply the decisions of the International Criminal Court: ‘As far as our country is concerned, the Constitution of the Russian Federation establishes the primacy of domestic law over international law. The decisions of the International Criminal Court, the European Court of Human Rights and other proxy institutions used by Washington to pursue its own interests are not applied in Russia (…) In the light of international experience, it is right to continue this work’.

In addition to the responsibility to support the decisions of the ICC, the commander-in-chief, according to Volodin, ‘should have the right to take any measures to protect our citizens in case international structures make decisions that contradict the norms of the Russian Constitution’. What would constitute criminal responsibility and what would be considered support and assistance to the ICC is not specified.

On 17 March, the International Criminal Court announced that it had issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian ombudsman for children, Maria Lvova-Belova. The court said the two were suspected of illegally deporting children from Ukraine. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia does not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC, so itThe Russian parlament has proposed amendments to ban the International Criminal Court (ICC) from operating in Russia and to establish responsibility for assisting and supporting the ICC.s decisions are legally null and void. The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case against the ICC prosecutor and the judges who previously issued the arrest warrants for Putin and Lvova-Belova.

Commenting on the charges against her, the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, said she found the ICC’s logic cynical and baffling: ‘It was impossible to do otherwise, because it was really about saving the children from being bombed. But it turns out that, according to the West, we should have left them there. But that is fundamentally wrong.

The Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute expressed its ‘unconditional support’ for the ICC and called for its ‘judicial and prosecutorial independence’ to be respected.

Cover image: ©FNKS on Flickr