Russia Mocks International Justice by Charging 92 Members of Ukrainian Armed Forces with War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
In July 2022, Alexander Bastrykin, Chairman of Russia’s Investigative Committee, gave statements regarding his committee’s investigations of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by “Ukrainian nationalists.”  Bastrykin disclosed that his committee had initiated more than 1,300 criminal cases against Ukrainian military personnel. Of those, 92 commanders and their subordinates have been charged.  Ninety-six soldiers have been placed on wanted lists, including 51 Ukrainian military commanders.  Eight cases involving foreign “mercenaries” from the UK, the US, Canada, the Netherlands, and Georgia have been initiated.  According to Bastrykin, Russian diplomats and embassies have been attacked in the Netherlands, Ireland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.  Bastrykin’s claims have been difficult to corroborate. In September 2022, Russian officials claimed their embassy in Ottawa, Canada, was attacked.  Ottawa Police noted that Russia had failed to file a report of the alleged incident. 
Amnesty International has noted that the proceedings against the 92 members of the Ukrainian armed forces lack transparency in violation of fair trial rights and humanitarian law.  These trials are perceived as further efforts to propagate misinformation regarding the events in Ukraine.  Russian trials of fighters in Ukraine which violate international law, is not a new development. In June 2022, the Donetsk People’s Republic, a separatist entity under Russian occupation, sentenced two British and one Moroccan national to death following convictions for seeking to violently overthrow the separatist entity.  These trials were considered gross international humanitarian law violations.  The Geneva Convention protects prisoners of war from prosecution on these grounds.
Russia’s prosecutorial ambitions are not limited to domestic proceedings. Russia seeks to partner with States including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Pakistan, South Africa, Syria, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to create an international judicial body to try and punish Ukrainian nationalists for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  The alleged goal of the body would be the “eradication of Nazism, nationalism, and xenophobia.”  Such efforts may be construed as a response to the International Criminal Court’s participation in investigations of crimes committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine or Ukraine’s attempts to establish an international tribunal to charge Russian soldiers with crimes of aggression.
 Natalya Kozlova, ‘The Chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia Gave an Interview to “Rossiiskaya Gazeta”’ (Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 25 July 2022) < https://en.sledcom.ru/press/interview/item/1709674/> accessed 11 October 2022 (Rossiiskaya).
 Dylan Robertson, ‘Russia Claims Ottowa Embassy was Attacked, Summons Canada’s Ambassador in Moscow’ (The Canadian Press, 19 September 2022) < https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/russia-claims-ottawa-embassy-was-attacked-summons-canada-s-ambassador-in-moscow-1.6074588> accessed 11 October 2022.
 Amnesty International, ‘Russia: Charging 92 Members of Ukraine’s Military with “Crimes Against Humanity” Brazenly Undermines Fair Trial Rights’ (Amnesty International, 25 July 2022) <https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/07/92-ukraine-military-charged-crimes-against-humanity/> accessed 11 October 2022.
 Amnesty International, ‘Ukraine/Russia: “Death Sentences” Against Three Foreign Members of Ukrainian Forces by Separatists’ “Courts” a Blatant Violation of International Law’ (Amnesty International, 9 June 2022) < https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/06/ukraine-russia-death-sentences-against-three-foreign-members-of-ukrainian-forces-by-separatists-courts-a-blatant-violation-of-international-law/> accessed 11 October 2022.
 Rossiiskaya (n 1)