Russia is refusing to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) as it investigates possible war crimes committed during a conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008.
Russia’s Ministry of Justice issued a statement confirming it would not cooperate with the investigation, reported Russian media today.
Tbilisi was not surprised by Moscow’s decision. The Georgian side believed it would not be in Russia’s best interests for this case to be investigated.
Russian officials stated it would not collaborate with The Hague Court since the Russian parliament had not ratified the Rome Statue, which Russia signed in 2000.
"As of February 1, 2016, the Russia Federation has not ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the document has not come into power,” Russia’s Justice Ministry said.
The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the ICC. It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on July 17, 1998 and it entered into force on July 1, 2002.
Earlier, spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova said Moscow was disappointed with ICC’s recent activities and would be forced to "fundamentally review its attitude towards the ICC”.
Zakharova said ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had taken Georgia’s side and started an investigation aimed against Russia and South Ossetia.
"Such actions hardly reflect the ideals of justice,” she said.
Georgia’s Justice Minister Thea Tsulukiani commented on Moscow’s accusatory statements and said the Georgian side would not be surprised if Russia didn’t support the investigation by the ICC.
"Georgia has chosen to cooperate with the ICC and even if Russia doesn’t participate in the investigation, Georgia will still find it easy to gather and present proof [of war crimes], including proof of ethnic cleansing of Georgians,” Tsulukiani said.
Georgia’s Defence officials also commented on the topic. Deputy Defence Minister Ana Dolidze said from a strategic point of view this step by Russia was an effort to make the international organisation "play with Russia’s own rules of the game”.
"If Russia doesn’t cooperate with the ICC it will be considered that Russia is not interested in an objective investigation of the issue,” Dolidze said.
Earlier ICC prosecutor Bensouda, who was approved to investigate the case, said if any side refused to cooperate, the investigation would continue regardless.