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IMI lawyer: Medvedev saying "Ukraine is Russia" has a genocidal motive

04.03.2024, 14:51
Photo by Yelyzaveta Servatynska / Suspilne
Photo by Yelyzaveta Servatynska / Suspilne

Deputy Chairman of Russia's Security Council, Dmitri Medvedev, says that Ukraine is Russia, as quoted by the Russian propaganda news oultet RIA Novosti from his March 4, 2024 speech at the federal educational marathon "Knowledge. The First Ones".

"All our opponents must firmly and forever understand the simple truth: the territories on both banks of the Dnieper are an inseparable part of Russia's strategic historical borders. A former leader of Ukraine once said that Ukraine was not Russia. This idea must disappear forever. Ukraine is definitely Russia," Medvedev said.

Roman Holovenko, a lawyer at the Institute of Mass Information, explains that by itself such a statement does not fall under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

"But in the context of the murder and persecution faced by those who identify as Ukrainians, this statement points to a genocidal motive for such actions," Roman Holovenko added.

As reported by the IMI, in September 2023, Ukraine called on the OSCE representative on media freedom, Teresa Ribeiro, to contribute to the UN Commission's investigation into the incitements to the genocide of Ukrainians in the Russian mass media.

On September 25, the UN's Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine said that some statements made by the Russian pro-state and other mass media may constitute the crime of incitement to genocide.

On March 4 and 16, 2023, the UN Independent International Commission did not rule that Russia was committing genocide in Ukraine.

What the UN Genocide Convention says

According to Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, genocide is a series of acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.

In particular, such actions include: killing and (or) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Genocidal rhetoric means public incitement to such actions.

An inseparable part of genocidal rhetoric is hate speech as a way of dehumanizing the enemy and using so-called masking words to distort reality. Over the course of the military aggression against Ukraine, the Russian propaganda has developed a whole newspeak that helps justify Russia's criminal actions. For instance, in the eyes of an average Russian who consumes content from state news resources, the full-scale war appears as a local "special operation" underpinned by supposedly objective reasons such as "denazification". The invasion, which includes mass murder, torture and rape, is called "liberation", "rescue" or "purge" from "Nazis", "fascists", "Satanists", "Banderites", "punitive squads", etc.

As an IMI study showed, the Kremlin propaganda is increasingly trying to legitimize the extermination of Ukrainian civilians and strikes on the infrastructure of Ukrainian cities. In this way, Russia is once again trying to blame Ukraine for the war. In particular, such extremist statements were actively promoted by Vladimir Soloviev and Anton Krasovsky. According to Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, such calls fall under the definition of "direct and public incitement to commit genocide", which, according to a legal analysis by the American New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy, is considered a crime in and of itself regardless of whether such calls resulted in genocide or not.

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