March 5, 2024, 16:20

Ukraine files a report to the ICC on russian occupiers’ crimes against religious groups in Crimea

Ukraine has lodged a report with the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Office, detailing atrocities perpetrated by russian occupiers against religious communities in Crimea. The dossier includes evidence amassed by local law enforcement and NGOs, documenting over 90 incidents of assault and persecution targeting Orthodox Church of Ukraine members, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Crimean Muslims, Protestants, and other minority faiths.

Ihor Ponochovnyi, Head of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, presented these findings at a briefing held at the Media Center Ukraine – Ukrinform.

“We’ve unearthed through our investigations that russia is actively vying to assert the dominance of the russian Orthodox Church in Crimea, particularly the Moscow Orthodox Church, which wields significant influence in keeping both Crimean and russian civilians under fear and subservience to the current regime. This church is leveraged as a potent propaganda tool to obliterate any traces of Ukrainian identity in Crimea. Essentially, it’s a ploy to blur the lines between russians and Ukrainians. But russia’s agenda doesn’t halt there; they’re going as far as concocting pseudo-religious groups, including within the Muslim community, to assimilate Crimean Tatars into the russian Muslim realm, ensuring they adhere to the same narratives,” clarified Ponochovnyi.

Hence, he believes that this Submission will assist in furnishing the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor’s Office with crucial evidence regarding the crimes perpetrated by the occupiers in Crimea.

“I’m optimistic that this effort will aid the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor’s Office in holding the highest echelons of russia accountable for their transgressions on Ukrainian soil. However, let’s be clear: while this Submission is a crucial step, it doesn’t absolve the Ukrainian justice system of its duty to prosecute russian war criminals. The ICC retains jurisdiction over top political figures, and our Submission aims to alert them to the war crimes and human rights violations occurring in Crimea, particularly those rooted in religious persecution,” stressed Ihor Ponochovnyi.

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