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Human rights groups urge ICC to investigate leading Russian propagandists for hate crimes

Citing over 300 instances of hate speech, human rights defenders have submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court alleging that five Russian propagandists are responsible for crimes against humanity during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian propaganda
“Stars” of Russian propaganda (from L to R): Anton Krasovskiy, Dmitry Kiselyov, Margarita Simonyan. Collage IMI
Human rights groups urge ICC to investigate leading Russian propagandists for hate crimes

Leading human rights organizations have submitted a filing to the International Criminal Court (ICC) concerning hate crimes committed by five prominent Russian propagandists against Ukrainians.

This is the first filing to an international court seeking to bring Russian propagandists to responsibility for their role in Russia’s invasion.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) sent the submission alleging responsibility of former president and current Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, host of the television channel “Rossiya-1” Vladimir Solovyov, editor-in-chief of Russia Today Margarita Simonyan, head of the state media group “Rossiya Segodnya” Dmitry Kiselyov, and radio and television host Sergey Mardan, for inciting hatred towards Ukrainians.

According to the submission, the hostile statements by Medvedev, Solovyov, Simonyan, Kiselyov, and Mardan constitute persecution, a crime against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute, and justify Gromov’s responsibility for ordering or permitting such actions under Articles 25 or 28 of the Rome Statute.

“The hate rhetoric played a crucial role in Russia’s criminal campaign in Ukraine,” said Ilia Nuzov, head of FIDH’s International Justice Desk. “Our organizations believe that in the context of crimes against humanity, hate speech is a separate offense that requires greater attention from the International Criminal Court. Our communication contains sufficient evidence to warrant further investigation of these actions and, ultimately, the need to issue arrest warrants for these individuals.”

The groups analyzed over 2,000 video fragments containing statements made by the aforementioned individuals between 24 February 2022, and 24 February 2024, identifying over 300 instances of hate speech amounting to the crime against humanity of persecution.

According to the statement, Aleksey Gromov, First Deputy Head of the Russian Presidential Administration, is considered responsible for overseeing their propaganda campaign.

Discussions and proposals to try Russian propagandists for crimes such as inciting genocide and war crimes, emphasizing the need for accountability at an international level, have been ongoing since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022

That year, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) launched criminal proceedings against Russian propagandists Dmitriy Kiselyov and Olga Skabeeva, who are suspected of committing crimes under Article 110.3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – trespass against the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine.

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