Tuesday, 24 January ‘23

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

Tuesday, 24 January ‘23

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

Tuesday, 24 January, 2023


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Russian Soldier Indicted for Sexual Violence in Kyiv Region

Ukraine’s prosecutor general's office sent an indictment to the court against a Russian military officer for raping a nurse in a village in Kyiv region. The accused, charged with violating the laws and customs of war under Article 438 of the criminal code, is a 20-year-old soldier of the 15th Separate Guards Motorised Rifle Brigade of the 2nd Guards Army of the Central Military District of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. He is originally from the village of Novokhopersky in the Voronezh region.

According to the investigation, the soldier abducted the nurse from her house, took her to an abandoned house and raped her, threatening to kill her husband. 

The office of the prosecutor general has recorded 155 cases of conflict-related sexual violence; the regions of Kherson and Kyiv reported the highest number of testimonies of assaults. Iryna Didenko, who leads the specialised department of the prosecutor general's office, stressed that these figures reflect only the cases in which survivors came forward to report the violence. 

Bodies of Three Civilians Exhumed in Kherson Region

On January 17, Kherson regional prosecutors and police recovered the bodies of three civilians in the village of Posad-Pokrovske. The two men and one woman died on different dates, but all suffered fatal injuries following the shelling of residential buildings. They were buried near their houses. The remains have been sent for forensic examination and a pre-trial investigation is ongoing for the violation of the laws and customs of war in combination with intentional murder, as per the criminal code’s Part 2 of Article 438.

A total of 59 bodies of civilians who died as a result of the war have been exhumed in the de-occupied territory of the Kherson region. 

UK to Join Group to Establish Aggression Tribunal

British foreign minister James Cleverly announced that the UK had joined a group of international partners pursuing criminal accountability for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Britain's involvement, according to a January 20 statement, would include assessing the feasibility of a new hybrid tribunal, described as a specialised court integrated into Ukraine’s national justice system with international elements.

An investigation into the crime of aggression could complement established mechanisms for investigating war crimes, including the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Ukraine’s domestic legal process. 

In March 2022 the UK led efforts to refer the situation in Ukraine to the ICC, which has now secured the support of 42 other countries. It has provided one million pounds (1.2 million US dollars) to the ICC to increase its collection of evidence capacity and provide enhanced psychosocial support to witnesses and survivors.

EU Adopts Resolution to Establish Aggression Tribunal 

On January 19, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine. Establishing a tribunal would, lawmakers argued, fill a vacuum in international criminal justice and complement the investigative efforts of the ICC, as it currently cannot investigate the crime of aggression when it comes to Ukraine.

The resolution, adopted by 472 votes in favour, 19 against with 33 abstentions, stated that the special tribunal should be created in close cooperation with Ukraine and the international community, preferably through the UN. The main condition, the text stated, is that the court must have jurisdiction to prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko and Belarus as a state, as Moscow is using its territory as a launch pad for attacks on Ukraine. 

The European Parliament also called on the EU and its partners to discuss legal ways of using the frozen assets of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation as reparations for Russia's violation of international law in Ukraine.

Russian Citizen Indicted for Role in Wagner Group

Police investigators have sent an indictment to the court against a Russian prisoner accused of being a mercenary with the Russian paramilitary Wagner Group organisation.

According to the investigation, the accused was recruited by the Wagner Group in September 2022 in a Russian prison where he was serving a sentence for kidnapping. He signed a contract for 200,000 rubles a month (about 2,900 dollars) and was promised exemption from criminal liability. He was then deployed to fight in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. 

Captured by Ukraine’s armed forces in December, he is currently in a pre-trial detention centre. Investigators have already established that members of the Wagner Group looted the property of Ukrainian enterprises, institutions and organisations, and committed attacks on civilians. For his participation in a criminal organisation, the man faces imprisonment for up to 12 years with confiscation of property.

Meanwhile, the US plans to designate the Wagner Group as a Transnational Criminal Organisation for its involvement in the invasion of Ukraine. 

First Sentence Issued Over “Annexation” of Ukrainian Territory

A resident of the village of Novooleksandrivka, in Kherson’s Beryslav district, was sentenced to five years in prison for her role in the pseudo-referendums that Russia staged in late September to annex Ukraine’s occupied territories.

The woman is a former member of the local so-called election commission created by Russia-installed authorities during the temporary occupation of the district in southern Ukraine. She was detained in October as Ukraine’s armed forces regained control of large swaths of the Kherson region.

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