The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), acting with Ukraine’s Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG) and the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), and an unnamed Russian NGO, sent an appeal on Thursday, June 6 to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate instances of hate speech by six Russian propagandists and government officials, which they say are tantamount to war crimes.

Its appeal names TV presenters Vladimir Solovyov and Dmitry Kiselyov, Sergei Mardan writer for Komsomolskaya Pravda, Margarita Simonyan RT television’s editor-in-chief along with Dmitry Medvedev deputy chairman of the Security Council and Alexei Gromov the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration.

The request was submitted under Article 15 of the Rome Statute of the ICC and focuses on hate speech violations covered by the statute’s Article 7.

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It says in its opening paragraphs:

“Words can’t kill, but they can demean and humiliate members of a group and create a climate where mass violence against them is normalized and encouraged. Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, and the resulting mass atrocities against Ukrainian civilians, have been made possible by years of intense and escalating propaganda of hate designed to justify and facilitate Russia’s territorial conquest of parts or all of Ukraine, and the subjugation or removal of civilians who oppose becoming part of the ‘Russian World’.”

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It goes on to say that those named in the petition are “are only a representative group of a larger state-sponsored incubator of hatred; they were selected based on their positions of influence and the gravity, frequency, and reach of their statements.”

It then equates much of the propaganda techniques used in Russia with historical atrocities against groups perceived as enemies of the state such as that targeted against Jews in Hitler’s Germany, Tutsis during the genocide in Rwanda, and Croat and Bosnian Muslims in the former Yugoslavia.

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It says those named have used their professional and social status to “continuously and repeatedly” spread ideas using TV, radio mainstream and social media to “incite hatred and violence against Ukrainians… in the minds of millions of their viewers and listeners, as a matter of state policy.”

The FIDH says it is submitting evidence based on the detailed analysis of the media output of the named individuals during which they identified over 300 separate instances of hate speech, much of which is available on its website.

The FIDH is an NGO founded in 1922 that brings together 188 human rights organizations from 116 countries to act with one voice. It has its headquarters in Paris, France with offices located close to the main international organizations including the EU and UN.

In March 2023 the ICC issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, forallegedly overseeing and facilitating the forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

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