The accusations of war crimes against Vladimir Putin since his arrival in the Kremlin 23 years ago

File photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (AP) (MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV /)

War crimes accusations have accompanied Russian President Vladimir Putin since his rise to the Kremlin in 2000 coinciding with the Second Chechen War. Then would come the military intervention in Syria (2015) and the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine (2022), also dotted with numerous complaints.

Putin had been accused before of being directly or indirectly responsible for the commission of crimes against humanity, but it is the first time that a body such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for this reason against the head of the Kremlin.

The Kremlin assured on Friday that Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of said court, which is why it considers its decisions “legally void.”

Chechnya, a black hole

In April 2000, a month after Putin was elected Russian president, the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) and the Russian organization Memorial published a report on abuses committed in the North Caucasian republic of Chechnya.

Both organizations concluded that Putin and his predecessor in office, Boris Yeltsin, should “be held primarily responsible, at least for the functions they held, for war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Chechnya by Russian forces”.

In addition, they recommended to the UN Security Council to create an “ad hoc” International Criminal Court to Chechnya, where Putin launched a brutal terrorist operation in 1999 to decapitate Islamist guerrillas.

Putin maintains that when he came to power the Russian Federation, like the USSR in 1991, was threatened with disintegration, largely due to the activities in the Caucasus powder keg of terrorist organizations sponsored, among others, by Western countries.

nytimes Russia Chechnya
File photo of Chechen fighters in Grozny in January 1995 (Alexander Nemenov/AFP)

Syria, the bombing of Aleppo

The Syrian and Russian governments have been accused of committing war crimes by savagely bombing the city of Aleppo in September and October 2016where both the forces opposed to the Bashar al Assad regime and terrorist groups were entrenched, according to Moscow and Damascus.

According to human rights organizations, several Hundreds of civilians, including about a hundred children, died in those bombardments perpetrated by Russian and Syrian aircraft, attacks that hit homes and social infrastructure, including hospitals.

Then, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande warned Putin during a meeting that these attacks represented a war crime and martyrdom for the population.

Both also agreed that the Assad regime and Russia could not use the fight against terrorists as an “excuse” to bomb a city in which 300,000 civilians lived.

Assad visited Russia this week, where he was received by Putin, whom he showed his support against what he called old and new Nazis.

Syrian men with babies make their way through the rubble of destroyed buildings after an air strike on the rebel-held Salihin neighborhood of Aleppo on September 11, 2016 (REUTERS)
Syrian men with babies make their way through the rubble of destroyed buildings after an airstrike on the rebel neighborhood of Salihin, in Aleppo, on September 11, 2016 (REUTERS) (REUTERS /)

Ukraine, the Bucha massacre

After the withdrawal of Russian troops from northern Kiev in early April 2022, local authorities found numerous bodies of people allegedly executed by Russian soldiers.

Days later, kyiv denounced the discovery of mass graves with hundreds of bodies in the north of the Ukrainian capital and also in other places such as in the eastern region of Kharkiv and Donbas.

Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky has openly accused Russia of war crimes, after which every visiting head of state travels to Bucha to pay tribute to the victims.

Then, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, stated that his Russian counterpart should be tried for war crimes. “We have to get all the details so there can be a war crimes trial. This guy is brutal and what is happening in Bucha is outrageous,” he stated.

Biden stressed that Putin, whom he had already described as a “war criminal” shortly after the start of the military intervention, “should be held accountable” for what happened.

A Ukrainian soldier looks at a mass grave with the bodies of civilians, who residents say were killed by Russian soldiers, in Bucha, in the Kiev region, Ukraine, on April 6, 2022 (REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)
A Ukrainian soldier looks at a mass grave with the bodies of civilians, who according to residents were killed by Russian soldiers, in Bucha, in the Kiev region, Ukraine, on April 6, 2022 (REUTERS / Alkis Konstantinidis) (ALKIS KONSTANTINIDIS /)

The human rights organization Human Rights Watch said it had indications that the Russian Army committed possible war crimes in areas under its control in the neighboring country, including summary executions of civilians.

About, Putin claimed that the Bucha massacre, allegedly perpetrated by Russian troops, was a “falsification” similar to those staged by the West in other corners of the world.

(With information from EFE)

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