Russia issues arrest order for British ICC prosecutor after Putin warrant

International criminal court

Interior ministry seeks to detain Karim Khan in wake of allegations against president over abducted Ukrainian children

Andrew RothFri 19 May 2023

The Russian government has put the British prosecutor of the international criminal court (ICC) on a wanted list in an act of retribution after the Hague-based court issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin for allegedly overseeing the abduction of Ukrainian children.

The arrest order said Russia’s interior ministry was seeking to detain Karim Khan, who has served as the ICC prosecutor since 2021.

In March, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, on allegations they facilitated the forced deportation of thousands of children from Ukraine to Russia, where many have been placed with Russian families.

Neither have denied that Ukrainian children have been sent to Russian families. Lvova-Belova in February said she had “adopted” a 15-year-old child from Mariupol, telling Putin: “I know what it means to be a mother of a child from Donbas.”

As the court’s prosecutor, Khan played an intimate role in the arrest warrant against Putin. He visited Ukraine four times in the year before the accusations were made public, leading to a ruling that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the child abductions.

Kyiv has accused Russia of abducting more than 16,000 children from the country since the full-scale invasion began in February last year.

Vladimir Putin

Khan was previously named in a criminal case opened by the Russian investigative committee, which also accused three judges of the court of making false accusations of guilt and of preparing an attack on a representative of a foreign state.

Khan’s addition to the wanted list is the latest step in the growing confrontation between Russia and Ukraine’s western allies, which the Kremlin is now seeking to portray as an existential conflict.

The arrest warrant for Putin has provoked a strong reaction from the Kremlin and Putin’s allies. The former president Dmitry Medvedev called for a missile strike on the ICC in response to the arrest warrant. The state Duma chair, Vyacheslav Volodin, said the warrant was equivalent to an act of aggression against Russia.

“Washington and Brussels understand: Putin is Russia,” he said.


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