Tuesday, 14 November ‘23

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 14 November ‘23

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 14 November, 2023
IWPR

IWPR

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Suspicion Issued to Russian Orthodox Church’s Patriarch Kirill

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) formally issued a suspicion in absentia to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, for undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity and inviolability, justifying Russia's armed aggression and aiding in the conduct of aggressive war (under Article 110 Part 3, Article 436-2 Part 3, Article 27 Part 5, Article 437 Part 2 of the criminal code). 

According to the investigators the 76-year-old clergyman, born Vladimir Gundyaev, is close to Russia’s leadership and was among the first to publicly endorse the full-scale war against Ukraine. The SBU stated that the patriarch used religious communities under his control in Russia and Ukraine to spread pro-Kremlin propaganda. 

In March 2022 the Russian Orthodox Church's website published an article in which the  patriarch reportedly blessed Viktor Zolotov, the Russian National Guard’s commander, for the war against Ukraine. In February 2023, the Church’s official YouTube channel featured Patriarch Kirill justifying the occupation of eastern Ukraine.

Acting Regional Governor of Occupied Kherson Sentenced in Absentia

On November 8, Odesa’s Malinovsky district court sentenced in absentia Volodymyr Saldo, acting regional de facto governor of Kherson’s occupied territory, to 15 years in prison and confiscation of property. The court found him guilty of state treason during war, collaborationism, justification of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine and glorification of its participants (under Part 2 of Article 111, Part 5 of Article 111-1, Part 1 of Article 436-2 of the criminal code).

Originally from the Mykolaiv region, Saldo was mayor of Kherson for three terms between 2002 and 2012 and is a former member of Ukraine’s parliament for the pro-Russian Party of Regions. When Kherson was occupied he defected to the Russian side and was appointed head of the regional military-civilian administration. Before the de-occupation of Kherson by Ukrainian forces on November 11, 2022, Saldo fled to the left bank of the Dnieper river, which remains under Russian occupation and where he holds the post of “acting governor of the Kherson region”.

Since Ukrainian legislation does not foresee life imprisonment for people over 60 years of age, Saldo was sentenced to 15 years instead of the maximum punishment for state treason.

On October 18, the same court sentenced, in absentia, Saldo’s deputy, 45-year-old Kyrylo Stremousov, to life imprisonment on charges of state treason and collaborationism (Part 1 of Article 111, Part 2 of Article 111 and Part 5 of Article 111-5 of the criminal code). 

On November 9, 2022, the Russian occupation administration reported that Stremousov had died in a road accident on the highway connecting Kherson with Armyansk, a city in the Crimean peninsula. The case against him however was not and Stremousov was tried as if he was alive because Ukrainian authorities do not have an independent confirmation of his death from the occupied territory.

Russian Commander Sentenced to 12 Years for Ordering Forceful Dispersal of Rally

On October 30, Odessa’s Suvorovsky District Court of Odessa sentenced Russian major Volodymyr Anufriyev in absentia to 12 years under Part 1 of Article 438 for violating the laws and customs of war. 

According to the investigation, in March 2022, he ordered Russian military to use weapons to disperse a peaceful pro-Ukrainian rally in Nova Kakhovka, a city in Kherson region which remains under Russian occupation. Soldiers beat unarmed people with rubber batons, threw smoke grenades into the crowd and used tear gas and  automatic weapons. The verdict will come into effect after the expiration of the 30-day appeal period.

Nearly a Quarter of Ukrainian Courts not Operational Due to War

About a quarter of courts in Ukraine are not functioning as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine, posing challenges to the judicial system and a significant burden on judges.

According to Oleksandra Yanovska, a judge from the Supreme Court in the Cassation Criminal Court, around 120 court buildings have been damaged or destroyed due to shelling, while the operations of those who remain functional are limited by power outages and staff shortages, including judges who have been transferred to courts in safer regions. 

Armenia Joins the International Criminal Court, Angering Moscow

Armenia has joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) and ratified the Rome Statute, the court’s founding treaty, a decision that risks further straining the country’s ties with its old ally Russia. Moscow, for decades Yerevan’s security guarantor in the South Caucasus, labelled the move “unfriendly” and warned it could harm bilateral relations. 

As the 124th member of the ICC, Yerevan is now subjected to the jurisdiction of the court in The Hague, which in March 2023 issued an arrest warrant against President Vladimir Putin and his Commissioner for Children’s rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, in relation to the forced deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia, where many have been adopted by Russian families.

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