Moscow should have a right to take any step necessary to protect Russian citizens, the State Duma chair believes
Russia needs legislation that would give its president free rein when defending the country's citizens in case international structures, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), make decisions that contradict the nation's constitution, the State Duma Chairman, Vyacheslav Volodin said on Saturday. He cited US law as an example.
The US adopted the American Service-Members' Protection Act in 2002 - nicknamed "The Hague Invasion Act." The legislation was designed to protect America's military personnel as well as elected and appointed officials from prosecution by international criminal courts, to which Washington is not a party.
The act authorizes the US president to use "all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel" detained or imprisoned on behalf of the ICC, since the US is not a party to the Rome Statute regulating its activities. The authorization implies potential military action, leading to the act's informal name.
According to Volodin, Russia needs to move in the same direction. The lower house head suggested further strengthening national legislation by banning outright any ICC activities on Russia's territory and introducing criminal liability for aiding or supporting the international body's activities.
Moscow should also sign bilateral treaties with "friendly nations" that would involve a reciprocal waiver of any cooperation with the the court, Volodin suggested. He also believes that Russia's commander-in-chief, i.e., the president, should have the right to take "any action to protect our citizens" in case international bodies pursue decisions against them that violate the Russian constitution.
Russia signed the Rome Statute establishing the ICC back in 2000, but never ratified it.
Volodin's statements come a week after the ICC issued a warrant for the arrest of President Vladimir Putin and children's rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, based on a referral from a number of NATO nations. They were accused of "forcible transfer of population," in reference to the evacuation of thousands of children from the combat zone in formerly Ukrainian regions that voted last September to join Russia.
Ukraine and its allies have refused to recognize the votes and insist the territories are occupied by Moscow. Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, meanwhile, has confirmed that the ICC is not recognized in Russia, meaning the warrants are "null and void from the legal standpoint."
Following the issue of the warrants, former US national security advisor, John Bolton, also blasted the ICC as a "fundamentally illegitimate" institution exercising governmental power without any constitutional framework to restrain it.