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Prosecutor General's Office: International Criminal Court to open office in Ukraine
Ukraine's Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin and the Registrar of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) Peter Lewis signed an agreement on opening the ICC's office in Ukraine on March 23.
Kostin called the document "another step towards ensuring full responsibility for international crimes," according to his office's report.
"This is just the beginning, but a good one," Kostin said. "I am convinced that we will not stop until all those guilty of international crimes committed against Ukraine are brought to justice, including the top military and political leadership of Russia's criminal regime."
The prosecutor general added he hoped for further cooperation with the ICC in the investigation and prosecution of Russian crimes against Ukraine. "I firmly believe our joint efforts will help build a fairer world."
The ICC issued arrest warrants on March 17 for Russian dictator Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official overseeing the forced deportations of more than 16,000 Ukrainian children to Russia.
Russia is shipping very old tanks west, signaling shortage in Ukraine
Open-source researchers have found evidence that Moscow is dusting off Stalin-era tanks — some first deployed more than 70 years ago — and shipping them west, possibly a sign that battlefield losses have led to a shortage of armor for Moscow’s forces on the front in Ukraine.
According to photographs obtained by the Tbilisi, Georgia-based Conflict Intelligence Team, T-54 and T-55 tanks from the 1940s were spotted aboard a train departing from Arsenyev in the Primorsky Krai region of Russia’s Far East, heading west. Russia’s 1295th Central Tanks and Repair Storage Base is in Arsenyev.
The researchers could not confirm that the tanks were being sent for use in combat on the front in Ukraine. Both Russia, which occupies about a fifth of Ukraine’s territory, and Ukraine are short on weapons and ammunition, and they are relying on extensive stocks of old weapons.
But the T-54 series tanks would be especially old, and their use would signal trouble for Russia given that Ukraine is now awaiting deliveries of Leopard battle tanks from European supporters and M1 Abrams tanks from the United States.
The T-54s were adopted by the Soviet army in the mid-1940s when leader Joseph Stalin was in power. The T-55 series entered service in 1958.
This is not the first instance of Russia turning to old tanks. Last year, an elite Russian unit was found to be using T-62 tanks in Ukraine — Soviet-era tanks that were introduced in 1961. But the CIT’s report noted that this is the first recorded instance of T-54 and T-55 tanks being taken out of storage.
“Even an outdated tank is more useful than no tank at all,” the report stated. “But we consider the lack of range finders and ballistic computers (not to mention fire control systems) to be the key disadvantages of these series, as well as primitive sights and an inferior gun stabilization system.”
The US launched an investigation against Swiss banks for bailing out Russian oligarchs
The US authorities are checking the largest banks in Switzerland - Credit Suisse and UBS - for help with the circumvention of sanctions by Russian oligarchs, Bloomberg reports, citing sources familiar with the situation.
According to them, the investigation began before Credit Suisse was on the verge of collapse and was bought by UBS for a measly $ 3.2 billion.
Both banks received requests from the US Department of Justice for documents - bank employees working with sanctioned clients were under investigation, they say Bloomberg sources.
Large US banks have also received similar requests, sources say: the authorities are interested in how internal control was arranged in banks, and if the audit shows that employees violated the law, then the investigation may continue.
At the beginning of May, when Swiss banks severed relations with sanctioned Russians, they held almost $50 billion of assets of sanctioned clients, of which $33 billion belonged to Credit Suisse.
Before the war, the bank served up to $60 billion of assets of the Russian elites, earning up to $500-600 million annually from this.
"I'll start smashing you like criminals." Medvedev threatened members of the commission on the military-industrial complex with Stalin's telegram
Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev read out the telegram of Joseph Stalin dated September 17, 1941, to the heads of defense enterprises. He voiced it at a meeting of the working group of the military-industrial commission.
“I ask you to honestly and on time fulfill orders for the supply of hulls for tanks ... If you turn out to be violators of your duty to the Motherland, I will begin to smash you as criminals who neglect the honor and interests of their Motherland. We cannot tolerate our troops suffering at the front from a lack of tanks, while you in the far rear cool off and do nothing,” he quoted the Soviet “leader”.
Medvedev said that he "could not fail to draw the attention" of the members of the commission to how "such work" was assessed in a "similar situation" during the Great Patriotic War.
“Colleagues, I want you to hear me and remember the words of the Generalissimo. As you understand, the results of such an appeal were very impressive,” the former president concluded his speech.
Medvedev was appointed to the post of first deputy in the military-industrial commission of the Russian Federation at the end of last year. The chairman of the commission, President Vladimir Putin, created this post specifically for Medvedev. He was allowed to hold meetings instead of Putin and create working groups.
It also includes Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, heads of the Foreign Intelligence Service, the FSB, the National Guard, and others.
The Military-Industrial Commission is engaged in the implementation of state policy in the field of the military-industrial complex, military-technical support for the country's defense, state security, and law enforcement. Among other things, it controls the production of weapons and forms the state defense order, and makes decisions on the responsibility of officials for supply disruptions.
The African laboratory of the Wagner Group: Diamonds, violence, and political alliances
Russian citizen Dimitri Sytii was added to the European Union’s sanction list on February 25. According to the citation, Sytii, 34, “has a leading role within the Wagner Group in the Central African Republic (CAR), with close links to Yevgeny Prigozhin,” who heads up the Russian mercenary network that has a presence in Africa, the Middle East, and Ukraine. It was Prigozhin who stated on social networks last December that Sytii had been the target of a parcel bomb in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. Nine days after the attack, in which Sytii was seriously injured, Prigozhin visited him after he had been transferred to a hospital in Russia. The Wagner Group leader shared two photos. One showed the patient asleep with his right hand bandaged. In the second, Sytii was waving to the camera, with some additions to his hospital room visible: Prigozhin had left him six mandarins, some Christmas gifts, and a framed photo of CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra.
The Central African Republic, a country of 5.5 million inhabitants, is one of the most poverty-stricken corners of the world, ranking 188 out of 191 nations on the Human Development Index. It is also the largest laboratory of overseas Russian power through the Wagner group, whose tentacles have spread successfully through the economic, propaganda, and military arteries of the country. The text issued by Brussels in sanctioning Sytii and other members of the Wagner Group reads: “Given his influential position in CAR and his leading role in the Wagner Group, he is responsible for serious human rights abuses committed by the Wagner Group in CAR.” These abuses, which have been denounced by NGOs and U.N. rapporteurs, include “torture and extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and killings.”
Putin’s Mercenary Prigozhin Shifts Focus After Ukraine Setbacks
Bloomberg, citing sources, reports that Yevgeny Prigozhin plans to curtail Wagner PMC operations in Ukraine. The siloviki and the political establishment view Prigozhin as a “growing threat”, now he lacks ammunition and manpower after the ban on recruiting Russian prisoners for the war. On the eve it was reported that PMC Wagner will lose many mercenaries in connection with the end of their six-month military contracts.
Also an article from a few months ago on the increasing division and war between Wagner, intelligence services, the Russian Defense Ministry, and the Kremlin
Putin’s Ukraine Folly Enables Kremlin Rivals
The sudden surge of convicts into the ranks, however, some of them hardened criminals, aggravated tensions between Prigozhin and FSB counterintelligence, the heart of the Kremlin security establishment. For starters, the FSB was expected to assist in recruiting the prisoners, and the mogul’s public call for his thieves and murderers to kill, torture, and “at least cut the throat” of Ukrainians was not the FSB’s clandestine style. But it also knew that it would fall to the FSB to deal with a flood of trained killers after their military discharges.
“They beat me with an iron stick, kept me in the basement.” Ukrainian children told how they were kept in Russian camps
17 children have returned to Ukraine, whom the occupying authorities of the Kherson region sent back in October last year "on vacation" to children's camps on the territory of the annexed Crimea. They promised that the children would go there for ten days, but in the end, they spent six months there. The Insider correspondent Tatyana Popova spoke with returned children and their parents in Kyiv. According to 16-year-old Vitaly, in the Mechta camp in Yevpatoria, children who fought for Ukraine were beaten with an iron stick:
“He beat Astakhov with an iron stick, who is responsible for security. He called himself king there. He said: “You are from Ukraine, who needs you? We will take you to the boarding school, you will sit there and you will understand everything.” One girl was hit on the back, and there was such a bruise right there.
We were sitting in the hall then and someone shouted: “Glory to Ukraine!” - and someone answered: “Glory to the heroes!” They were taken away, but I don’t know what happened to them. He also burned the flag of Ukraine, this one is in charge of security. They found a small Ukrainian flag on a stick from the girl. She said that her mother and father brought her from Kyiv. She put it in a glass and then hung it on the curtains. This one comes in, breaks off and yells obscenities: “You crests are sick! You are in Russia, there will never be Ukraine anywhere, it will simply burn down. Let's go, you'll watch how Ukraine burns. I set the flag on fire with a lighter, and it burned down.
A person with the surname Astakhov from Evpatoria is in the Peacemaker database, but The Insider could not get through to him.
Vitaly said that he and his girlfriend ran away from the camp for two days:
“Then we said: ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ and ran away for two days. We came to a hotel in Evpatoria, the girl's mother threw off 600 rubles, and rented a single room, slept on the floor. We bought food and ate. There in the center was the Eternal Flame and the Russian flag hangs. My friend came up and put it out with her foot. And there was a grandmother, who is also for Ukraine, and she says: “I have been waiting for Ukraine for eight years now.”
Then they were found by the police and returned to the camp. There, children began to be intimidated that they would never return to Ukraine, but instead, they would be given to foster families because their parents allegedly abandoned them:
“We had conversations in the spirit: “Are you sick? Ukraine will burn! You will definitely not return home, and if you return, then only with problems! “They said that they would take us to Pskov to a boarding school. We told them: “My parents didn’t refuse us, you won’t take us anywhere.” To which they: “You were rejected.” My mother called the camp director and said: “What are you talking about? I did not say that! Why are you lying to your children?” They answered her: “You won't take them anyway. These will be the children of Russia.”
Vitaly says that all the children from the Mechta camp were transferred to the Druzhba camp, and the conditions there were even worse: there was no bed linen, only a dirty mattress, and pillow, and for disobedience, they were locked in the basement for several hours:
“We were forced to sing the Russian anthem, hold the Russian flag, raise it to the flagpole, but we didn’t do it. They threw off the text of the anthem and said: "Teach, tomorrow you will tell." But then somehow forgot about it. They kept it in the basement. They said: “You are for Ukraine, and you are not needed!” The girl was kept alone for four hours. Everyone is different. They forced us to clean the corridors, because the cleaners did not clean. There was no bed linen, only a pillow and a mattress some kind of dirty. It's not in basements, it's in rooms. We bought a light bulb ourselves and screwed it in so that at least there was light. There were no sockets in the room either. I told them [about bad conditions], and they told me: “You are from Ukraine, sleep whatever you want.”
At first, the children were not allowed to go home, explaining this for security reasons, and then they were told that they simply would not return. When it was nevertheless possible to agree on the return of the children, Russia demanded that the parents pick them up personally. “They were told: “If you want, come yourself and take your children if you need them.” But it turned out that when these areas were de-occupied, there was a front line between mothers and these children: they could not come, ” said in an interview with Current Time in December last year, Save Ukraine coordinator Miroslava Kharchenko.
“The legend was that they went to the camp for two weeks. First, they went for two weeks, then the child called me and said that they were extending it. On November 4, they were supposed to return, but the Crimean bridge was bombed, the mother of one of the girls told The Insider. - In November, our people came to Kherson, and we asked them how to pick up the child. We were forced to leave Kherson with volunteers from the Khmelnytskyi region, and there, through the police, the inspector for children gave us the phone number of volunteer Katya. We went through the Russian Federation. On Sunday I went to Kyiv, and on Monday evening we already left for Poland, then to Belarus, Russia, and Crimea, and then back.”
“We waited 6.5 months from the moment of departure. We turned to Save Ukraine, and submitted an application, the wife called and said that we had to wait, because there were a lot of children, but the moment was slowly being decided. A volunteer called a week ago and said that there is a person who can pick it up. They wrote a power of attorney for a woman who was going to Evpatoria for her child. Came, picked up, and delivered within two days. Yesterday we arrived from Kherson, we were met, settled in a hotel, and in the morning we came to pick up the children. All this time we lived in Kherson, ”says the father of another child.
Not all children have experienced abuse in the camps, but all speak of poor conditions and substandard food.
“I first went to the first camp - “Friendship”. The conditions there were very bad - six outlets per floor, and 50 people live on the floor. Two bathrooms and two toilets for boys and two for girls,” said Vlad from Kherson. - Cleaned there quite rarely. The food is worse than average, so-so.”
According to Vlad, there were lessons in the Russian program in the camp. They were forced to listen to the anthem of the Russian Federation while exercising while standing. Then they were moved to the Luchisty camp. “Everything was much better there - excellent rooms, bathrooms, a toilet in each room, at least five sockets, feeding is much better. There were some clubs, football, volleyball, and so on,” the boy says.
A Yale University lab study said that there are now more than 40 camps for Ukrainian children in Siberia, on the Black Sea coast, in the central regions, in the Urals, and in the annexed Crimea. According to the authors of the report, in the camps children are taught about "traditional values", they are taught history according to "Russian standards,” and they are taught how to shoot and use the equipment. Some camps, including those in Crimea and Chechnya, were alleged to be running a "young fighter course " for children.
At the end of December, it became known that the administrations of children's camps in Crimea were not letting Kherson children go home. It was reported that more than 100 children did not return to Balakleya from another camp.
The website of the state portal "Children of War" reports the disappearance of 16,226 children. Return to their homeland, according to the site, so far managed 308.
On March 17, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and children's ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova, saying they were responsible for the forced removal of children from Ukraine.
Moneyval Chief Departs Role After Report Links Family to Russian Intelligence
The executive secretary of the Financial Action Task Force’s affiliate in Europe has left his position following revelations about his family ties to Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR.
Russian national Igor Nebyvaev, who has led the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures, or Moneyval, since March 2020, told more than 200 officials Tuesday in an email seen by ACAMS moneylaundering.com that he would step aside with immediate effect.
The Council of Europe, the human rights organization that hosts Moneyval, had come under pressure to remove Nebyvaev after German news outlet Bild reported on March 16 that his father, Vladimir, is a senior officer with SVR working out of a military barracks in Moscow.
Bild reported that Ukrainian authorities expelled the elder Nebyvaev and other alleged spies and diplomats from their country in 2018 after the poisoning of Russian defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain, which attributed the attack to Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency, the GRU.