Russia’s Move Against ICC President Hofmanski and More

The Russian Interior Ministry has announced its pursuit of Piotr Hofmanski, the president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), on Monday, October 25. This action comes in response to Hofmanski’s March decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, alleging war crimes committed in Ukraine.

The Russian Interior Ministry has invoked an article of the Russian criminal code in the search for Hofmanski, although specific details surrounding the cause for this search have not been disclosed. Furthermore, ICC Vice President Luz del Carmen Ibáñez and Judge Bertram Schmitt are also subject to the search.

In May, Moscow similarly declared the prosecutor of the ICC, Karim Ahmad Khan, wanted for his role in issuing the arrest warrant against Putin.

The ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin, issued on March 17, alleges his responsibility for the illegal deportation of children from occupied regions in Ukraine to Russia, a grave war crime. Maria Lvova-Belova, Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights, also faces similar charges and an arrest warrant from the ICC.

The Kremlin has consistently refused to recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction and considers the arrest warrant against Putin to be “legally null and void.”

In response to these developments, Russia’s Investigative Committee initiated a case against the ICC members involved, asserting that the accusations against the Russian president are “deliberately illegal” and lack a basis for criminal liability.

Russia was an initial signatory to the ICC’s establishment in 2000 but withdrew its support in 2016, citing disappointment in the court’s performance. This decision followed the ICC’s determination that Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 constituted an occupation.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, during his visit to New York, called on UN Secretary-General António Guterres to provide evidence regarding the allegations of Moscow abducting Ukrainian children.

Earlier this month, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva faced criticism for suggesting that Putin would not be arrested if he attended the 2024 G20 summit in Brazil. As a member of the ICC, Brazil has an obligation to arrest Putin if he enters the country. Lula later clarified that the matter would fall under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary, but he did not rule out reviewing Brazil’s involvement in the ICC, arguing that neither the United States nor Russia are ICC members.

In August, Putin declined to attend the BRICS summit in South Africa, a country under the ICC’s jurisdiction, due to concerns about potential arrest.

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