Illia Ponomarenko: Ukraine’s Friend & Foe of the Week
Editor’s Note: This feature separates Ukraine’s friends from its enemies. The Order of Yaroslav the Wise has been given since 1995 for distinguished service to the nation. It is named after the Kyivan Rus leader from 1019-1054, when the medieval empire reached its zenith. The Order of Lenin was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union, whose demise Russian President Vladimir Putin mourns. It is named after Vladimir Lenin, whose corpse still rots on the Kremlin’s Red Square, more than 100 years after the October Revolution he led.
Friend of the Week — Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor at International Criminal Court
It is always a great joy to see people of the law fulfill their duty to justice for all with undisputed commitment.
No matter when or where in the world, if a crime is committed, it needs to face trial.
Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, has demonstrated her adherence to this inspiring principle.
On Dec. 11, the 59-year-old lawyer, who’s originally from Gambia, issued a statement saying that, after years of evaluation, the court had concluded that all statutory criteria had been met for launching an official investigation of war crimes committed in Ukraine.
The statement came out as a reaction to the letters sent to the Court by the Ukrainian government regarding Russia’s invasion in Ukraine: the annexation of Crimea and invasion in the Donbas, where the ongoing war has claimed over 13,000 lives since 2014.
“My office has concluded that there is a reasonable basis at this time to believe that a broad range of conduct constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed,” Bensouda said.
She added that the list of felonies that could be investigated in Ukraine includes war crimes conducted amid hostilities, crimes during detention, and also crimes committed in Russian-occupied Crimea.
This was a very important step on a long path to the ultimate judgment of what the Kremlin has actually done in Ukraine. Of course, the international investigators will have a near endless scope of work to do in this country after more than six years of the Kremlin-sponsored war.
The list of Russian crimes in Crimea against Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars not willing to bow down to the alien occupation is long, too.
Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine are well-documented facts.
Artillery shelling in densely populated civilian areas, illegal detentions, torture and mass pillaging are among the most frequent crimes committed by Russian-backed militants in this war.
Way to go, prosecutor Bensouda.
She has announced she’s leaving her duties soon, but she’s already given the green light for what will hopefully become one of the most important war crime trials of modern times.
Therefore, the Kyiv Post can’t help but declare Fatou Bensouda as Ukraine’s Friend of the Week.
Foe of the week — Sergey Aksyonov, Crimea’s Russian ‘prime minister’
Speaking of the war crimes in Russian-occupied Crimea, here’s just the latest example of what can be part of the International Criminal Court case.
Ukrainian Crimea-based winery Masaandra was purchased by Russia’s LLC Yuzhny Proekt, in which 99.9% of shares belong to Bank Rossiya.
Ihor Ponochovny, Ukrainian prosecutor for Crimea, said in an interview with the Dzerkalo Tyshnya newspaper published on Dec. 14 that the Russian occupation authorities had committed a war crime.
“Because, according to the IV Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, the occupying state is prohibited from appropriating both public and private property in the occupied territory,” Ponochovny said.
“The occupying state has the right to use public property only for military purposes,” he added.
The story regarding the Massandra winery is just another example of Russia’s absolute disregard for any sort of law and justice when it comes to the territories it illegally controls.
In fact, the Kremlin occupation authorities — again — simply claimed what is not theirs and made money from a stolen object like a street thug.
Nothing new, though.
So, being the face of the self-proclaimed administration of Crimea, Russian official Sergey Aksyonov gets the title of Ukraine’s Foe this Week.
Hopefully, this incident will not slip away from the International Criminal Court’s attention when the time is right.