Practice Relating to Rule 38. Attacks against Cultural Property
The Russian Federation’s Military Manual (1990) states that “the bombardment by military aircraft or vessels of historic monuments [and] churches … which are undefended and not used for military purposes” and “the destruction of cultural property, historical monuments, places of worship, and other buildings which represent the cultural or spiritual heritage of a people” are prohibited methods of warfare.
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states:
The prohibited methods of warfare include … destroying cultural property, historic monuments, places of worship and other objects of cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples, as well as using them for the purpose of achieving success in combat operations.
The Regulations further states:
cultural property enjoying special protection
includes cultural property entered into the International Register of Cultural Property under Special Protection. From the time of entry in the Register, the parties to a conflict shall refrain from any act of hostility directed against this property, as well as from any use of such property or its surroundings for military purposes.
With regard to internal armed conflict, the Regulations states: “It is prohibited to commit any acts of hostility directed against cultural property.”
The Russian Federation’s Criminal Code (1996) provides for the punishment of “destruction of or damage to cultural and historical monuments … as well as objects or documents having historical or cultural value”.
The Code provides a heavier penalty for “the same acts committed against particularly valuable objects or monuments of all-Russian significance”.
In 1995, in its judgment in the Situation in Chechnya case
, the Russian Federation’s Constitutional Court recognized the applicability of the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the conflict in Chechnya. While noting that amendments to domestic legislation to ensure its application had not been adopted, the Court stated: “Nevertheless, provisions of [the 1977 Additional Protocol II] regarding … protection of cultural [objects] and places of worship are binding on both parties to the armed conflict.”
According to the Report on the Practice of the Russian Federation, the destruction of cultural property, historic monuments or places of worship that constitute a part of the cultural or spiritual heritage of a people is a prohibited method of warfare.