Read the original article at radiosvoboda.org
Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia
The report of an international group of investigators of the MH17 crash in Donbas sky made the world again talking about the legal mechanisms for bringing the perpetrators to justice. July 29 last year, Russia vetoed the decision of the UN Security Council to establish an international tribunal to investigate the disaster. Now the world has only two options - the trial in Ukraine, the Netherlands, Malaysia or Australia, as well as the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
But, perhaps, the world will unblock a Russian veto even in the UN, if Russia or its citizens would be found guilty of terrorist attack?
About his vision of a possible solution to the situation said Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine, a judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (2001-2005), an international lawyer Volodymyr Vasylenko.
- We remember that last year Russia has blocked the creation of an international tribunal to investigate the accident. We have only two options - national jurisdictions (Ukraine, the Netherlands, Australia ...) and the Hague tribunal - the International Criminal Court. How do you see the further scenario after the final result of the investigation?
Mr. Lavrov (Russian Foreign Minister - Ed.) ruled out the possibility to punish those responsible in Russia. That would be the best way for Russia to recognize that air defense missile system "Buk" destroyed civilian aircraft, punish perpetrators and pay the compensations. This would eliminate the responsibility of Russia as a state and would help to improve the image of Russia. But instead they blackmail, intimidate, falsify, misinform the international community.
- Obviously they will not change their course of action in the future.
Yes. Hypothetically, one could expect that they can extradite these people. When in January next year investigation team will make public the names of specific perpetrators. There remains the same option that Russian extradites people - the direct perpetrators of the crime in order to bring them before national court, for example, in the Netherlands or Ukraine as the state in which territory the crime was committed.
- Such a compromise scenario.
I say it again, these scenarios would benefit Russia. But Russia still holds its line on blackmailing and fraud. Thus, it increases the fault. And there should already be a question not only of the criminal responsibility of specific individuals, but about the responsibility of Russia as a state. And criminal responsibility of senior management in Russia, that shows blatant unwillingness to punish the perpetrators of war crimes.
- The situation is unprecedented in history. Permanent Member of the UN Security Council is suspected in the terrorist attack. Is it possible, at least theoretically, to overcome the Russian veto and to judge the state with the UN Security Council?
In terms of the legal and law it is impossible. Russia, in accordance with the UN Charter has the right of veto, and vetoed it, as you rightly said, the approval decision of the meeting of International Criminal Tribunal and additions to the decision. What might possible? Trials in the national courts. The Dutch government seriously reacted to this problem, many Dutch citizens were killed and they have actively contributed to the creation of the investigative team. They provide all the data.
- Let’s imagine that the Court of the Netherlands has identified 30 perpetrators. Of these, 15 people – are the Russian army officers, 15 people –are the militants. And, for example, responsible would be the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, or even Vladimir Putin. What is it from this? And what should they worry about?
You must use legal mechanisms and take steps to ensure that these mechanisms work. And in general it is not necessary to talk not about some separatists. There are irregular armed units of the Russian army in Donbas. The so-called separatists and mercenaries - this contingent, which contains the armed forces of the Russian Federation, their finances, controls, arms, command. The facts are more than enough. We have the resolution of the UN General Assembly from 1974 about the definition of aggression. There is an item that qualifies mercenaries. Bringing to justice should be viewed in a broader context. This failure to punish the perpetrators in Russia is the legal basis for the harsh international sanctions. And if the Western democracies are serious about protecting their national interests, they should take advantage of this opportunity and in much more efficient way impose sanctions against the Russian Federation in order to force them to punish or extradite all responsible persons.
- Let's assume that Russian Defense Minister is in wanted list ...
- Again. Russia refuses to do so, then, I repeat, this is a repeated offense. The refusal to be responsible for a crime is a repeated offense, which is the basis for the use of coercive measures in the form of international sanctions. Russia over the years proved to be a criminal state. And for this reason you need to create an anti-Putin coalition following the example of the anti-Hitler coalition and take measures. Not the military measures, of course. But the economic potential of the West can allow it to put Russia on its knees.