Russia has hit back after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, which accuses him of war crimes for his alleged involvement in child abductions from Ukraine.
The ICC said the president is allegedly responsible for the “unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of children from the territory of Ukraine to the Russian Federation”.
It also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, his commissioner for children’s rights, on similar allegations.
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War crimes include torture, mutilation, corporal punishment, hostage taking and acts of terrorism. The category also covers violations of human dignity such as rape and forced prostitution, looting and execution without trial.
Crimes against humanity are acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, such as murder, deportation, torture and rape.
So what do we know about Ms Lvova-Belova and other fugitives who are facing ICC arrest warrants?
Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova
Lvova-Belova was appointed by Putin as his children’s rights commissioner in October 2021.
British and Ukrainian officials have accused Lvova-Belova of the forcible deportation and adoption of children from Ukraine during the Russian invasion which began in February 2022.
Lvova-Belova has been sanctioned by the US, Europe, the UK, Canada and Australia.
She claims to be the “saviour” of Ukrainian children caught up in Russia’s so-called “special military operation” but her passionate rhetoric allegedly conceals a sinister plan to deport Ukrainian kids from territories occupied by Russian invading forces.
A recent US report said Russia has held at least 6,000 Ukrainian children in sites in Russian-held Crimea and Russia whose primary purpose appears to be political re-education.
Last month on television, Lvova-Belova thanked Putin for being able to “adopt” a 15-year-old boy from Mariupol, the southeastern Ukrainian city that was destroyed and occupied by Russian forces.
Lvova-Belova was already the mother and guardian of 22 mostly adopted children, according to reports.
She is also a member of the governing body of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, the largest party in the Russian parliament.
Mikhail Mayramovich Mindzaev
The Russian allegedly committed war crimes during the August 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia that has very close ties with Moscow.
The war cost hundreds of lives on both sides and forcibly displaced tens of thousands of civilians.
Human Rights Watch found that after Georgian forces withdrew from South Ossetia on 10 August, the Russian-backed South Ossetian forces deliberately destroyed ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia that had been administered by the Georgian government.
It said the forces looted, beat, threatened, and unlawfully detained numerous ethnic Georgian civilians, and killed several, on the basis of the residents’ ethnicity and political affiliations.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Mindzaev in June 2022. It said the ex-Russian police officer was the minister of internal affairs of the de facto South Ossetian administration from 2005 until 2008.
He was charged with war crimes of unlawful confinement, torture and inhuman treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, hostage taking, and unlawful transfer of civilians.
These were allegedly committed between 8 and 27 August 2008 during the conflict. He is still at large.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is a Libyan political figure and second son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
In 2011, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Saif on two counts of crimes against humanity, which were murder and persecution, allegedly committed in Libya that year.
He was captured by a militia group in 2011 in Libya, as he tried to flee for Niger, but was released from prison in 2017 and is still at large.
In 2021, he registered to run for president, but the election authority rejected his bid.
An arrest warrant was issued in July 2005 for the Ugandan rebel who was allegedly commander-in-chief of militia group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
His decades-old war kept much of north Uganda trapped in a nightmare of violence, hunger and fear of night-time raids by the LRA.
Child soldiers and their commanders, many barely in their teens, carried out attacks on unarmed villagers, allegedly under Kony’s orders.
Several attempts to capture him by UN and Ugandan forces over the years have failed and he remains on the run.
He is accused of 12 counts of crimes against humanity, which included murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement, rape, and inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering.
The ICC also accused Kony of 21 counts of war crimes, including murder, cruel treatment of civilians, intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population, pillaging, inducing rape, and forced enlistment of children – these were allegedly committed after 1 July 2002.
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