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Media: Armenia proposed Russia sign agreement to circumvent Rome Statute

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 2, 2023 4:42 PM 2 min read
Armenian lawmakers attend a plenary session at the parliament in Yerevan on October 3, 2023. (Karen Minasyan / AFP via Getty Images)
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Armenia invited Russia to sign a bilateral agreement that would allow Yerevan to bypass rules relating to the International Criminal Court's (ICC) arrest warrant for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, according to local media reports on Nov. 2.

Armenia recently ratified the ICC's Rome Statute, making it one of 124 countries obliged to arrest Putin if he sets foot in the country, after he was issued with an ICC arrest warrant in March 2023 for his role in the mass deportation of Ukrainian children.

Armenia's proposal to Russia was made "several months before the ratification," Hakob Arshakyan, the deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, reportedly told a parliamentary briefing.

The agreement would have ensured that "ratification would not affect our relations." Yerevan has not yet received a response from Moscow, according to Arshakyan.

"However, there is still enough time before the Rome Statute comes into force," the deputy speaker said.  

On Oct.3, the Armenian parliament voted to ratify the Rome Statute. Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan then ratified the statute, Armenia's Presidential Office announced on Oct. 13.

The ruling enters into force 60 days after signing.

Armenia first signed the Rome Statute in 1998 but failed to ratify it. The process resumed in 2022.

The treaty's ratification comes in the wake of Azerbaijan's victory over the self-declared ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which was defeated by Azerbaijani forces on Sept. 20.

Russian "peacekeepers" were stationed in the area to stop violence between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, but did nothing to prevent Azerbaijan's Sept. 20 offensive. Tensions between Armenia and their long-time ally Russia have since risen.

The ICC asserts that there are "reasonable grounds to believe" that Putin holds direct accountability for supervising the deportations and that he neglected to exert authority over Russian soldiers and civilians executing the crime across occupied Ukrainian regions from the onset of Russia's all-out war against Ukraine.

Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official allegedly overseeing the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia, was also issued an arrest warrant by the ICC in March 2023.

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