A few days ago, International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan said:
Today, the Pre-Trial Chamber has issued arrest warrants in relation to the following two individuals:
- Mr Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation; and
- Ms Maria Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation.
On the basis of evidence collected and analysed by my Office pursuant to its independent investigations, the Pre-Trial Chamber has confirmed that there are reasonable grounds to believe that President Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova bear criminal responsibility for the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, contrary to article 8(2)(a)(vii) and article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute.
Incidents identified by my Office include the deportation of at least hundreds of children taken from orphanages and children’s care homes. Many of these children, we allege, have since been given for adoption in the Russian Federation. The law was changed in the Russian Federation, through Presidential decrees issued by President Putin, to expedite the conferral of Russian citizenship, making it easier for them to be adopted by Russian families.
I was a bit surprised by the particular charge, as I've followed acts such as the bombardment of (dual-use) civil infrastructure (energy, railways), and have heard allegations of intentional targeting of civilians in some cases, but this is the first I've heard of this movement-of-children thing.
What evidence has the court based its decision to issue arrest warrants on?
In particular, evacuating children from war-zones is something which I would assume happens, so what is the indication that children were moved where it is not allowed to move them, and with the intention of not returning them? Does it have something to do with the question of the recognition of the LPR and DPR as independent states and their later accession to the Russian Federation, after which orphans may perhaps have been treated as "any Russian orphan", without care to let them stay within the territories of the LPR/DPR?