Russian official sought by ICC for war crimes speaks to UN

Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, who is being sought for war crimes, will brief a controversial United Nations meeting that Russia called to counter what it claims is disinformation about Ukrainian children taken to Russia.

Russia’s UN Mission confirmed on Tuesday that Maria Lvova-Belova will be the lead speaker, by video link, to an informal meeting of the Security Council that has sparked opposition from Ukraine’s supporters.The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants last month for her and President Vladimir Putin over their suspected involvement in the unlawful deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.

The United Kingdom said it has blocked outside broadcast of the meeting in protest and will not send an ambassador. The US mission said it will not send its ambassador, either.

“The fact that they are inviting someone indicted by the ICC speaks for itself,” UK deputy ambassador James Kariuki said.

Later, the UK mission added in a statement: “If she wants to give an account of her actions she can do so in The Hague,” the Netherlands city where the ICC has its headquarters.

The Associated Press reported on Lvova-Belova’s involvement in the abduction of Ukrainian orphans in October, in the first investigation to follow the abduction process all the way to Russia, relying on dozens of interviews and documents.

It found the open effort to put Ukrainian children up for adoption in Russia was well under way. Ukrainian officials claimed at the time that nearly 8,000 children had been deported to Russia, but the exact number was difficult to determine.When it announced the warrants on March 17, the ICC alleged Putin and Lvova-Belova were responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine into Russia.

Their chances of facing a trial are remote as Moscow does not recognise the court’s jurisdiction. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov at the time called the ICC action “legally void” and “outrageous and unacceptable”.

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