Practice Relating to Rule 158. Prosecution of War Crimes
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states with regard to internal armed conflict:
Penal prosecution of persons who have committed war and other crimes during an armed conflict shall be exercised on the basis of Russian legislation via investigation and conviction pronounced by a court offering the essential guarantees of independence and impartiality.
The Internal Service Regulations of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (2007) provides:
General Obligations of Commanders (Superiors)
77. … In the course of carrying out combat missions by a military unit, the commander (superior) guided by requirements of field manuals, must take measures aimed at respecting IHL rules and bring to disciplinary responsibility those guilty of breaching them. In the event of discovering constituent elements of a criminal offence in the actions (omissions) of his subordinates, the commander of the unit shall institute criminal proceedings, in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation.
The Russian Federation’s Decree on the Punishment of War Criminals (1965) states:
The peoples of the Soviet Union that suffered losses during the war cannot let fascist barbarians go unpunished. The Soviet State has always proceeded from the universally recognized rules of international law that provide for the inevitable prosecution of Nazi criminals, no matter where and for how long they have been hiding from justice.
The Decree also provides: “Nazi criminals, guilty of most serious crimes against peace and humanity and war crimes, are subject to prosecution and punishment.”
The Russian Federation’s Criminal Code (1996), in a chapter entitled “Crimes against the peace and security of mankind” and under a provision entitled “Use of banned means and methods of warfare”, provides for the punishment of
cruel treatment of prisoners of war, deportation of the civilian population, plunder of the national property in the occupied territory and use in a military conflict of means and methods of warfare banned by [international treaties to which the Russian Federation is a party].
The Code further provides for the punishment of offences such as genocide, ecocide, use of, and participation by, mercenaries in an armed conflict or hostilities, and assaults on persons or institutions enjoying international protection.
In 2008, in a statement before the UN Security Council during a meeting on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation stated:
The prevention of violence is an objective that is strategic in nature, reaffirming the need to combat impunity for serious violations of international humanitarian law. Here, assistance to those States involved in restoring or establishing independent national judicial systems and institutions should be stressed.
In 2009, in a statement before the UN Security Council during a meeting on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation stated:
Once again, just a few days ago, 17 Afghan civilians, including women and children, were killed during a coalition operation in eastern Afghanistan. … We support a careful investigation into such incidents, including punishment for the guilty. That also applies to the activities of private security companies.
In 2011, in a statement before the UN Security Council during a meeting on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation stated: “We resolutely condemn premeditated attacks on civilians, as well as civilian deaths resulting from the indiscriminate or disproportionate use of force, which is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. We advocate thorough investigation of such incidents and punishment of the perpetrators.”
In 2012, the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation stated:
[A]nother massacre against peaceful Syrian citizens took place, this time in villages of Al-Kubeyr and Maarzaf near the town of Hama. Nearly 100 peaceful citizens are reported dead, including 40 women and children. … We strongly condemn the barbaric acts of violence in the area of town Hama. Their [perpetrators] must be brought to trial and suffer the most severe punishment.