Espreso. Global

Bulgaria to investigate Russian war crimes against Ukraine

8 February, 2024 Thursday
20:09

Bulgaria's Minister of Justice, Atanas Slavov, has announced that the Bulgarian government is in the process of drafting amendments to the nation's criminal code. These amendments aim to empower Bulgaria to hold Russia accountable for its aggressive actions in the ongoing war against Ukraine

Euroactiv reported the information. 

“Our goal is for Bulgaria to be able to launch criminal proceedings, exercising universal jurisdiction, for the committed war crimes and crimes against peace and humanity in Ukraine. This will be an act of support for international efforts to investigate Russian aggression in Ukraine,” Atanas Slavov said.

Euractive reports that Bulgaria stands among the minority of European Union member states that have yet to commence criminal proceedings against Russia for war crimes in Ukraine or for evading EU sanctions.

Slavov highlighted the significance of Bulgaria's ability to launch proceedings for war crimes, especially given the substantial number of Ukrainian refugees—approximately 100,000—in the country, many of whom can provide testimony based on their experiences in war-affected regions.

“It is crucial that Bulgaria can initiate proceedings for war crimes in Ukraine, exercising universal jurisdiction, given the large number of Ukrainian refugees in the country. They can testify,” Slavov told Euractiv.

The minister expressed optimism that the evidence collected, once compiled from all European countries, could be instrumental in establishing a future tribunal for war crimes in Ukraine. 

“I would be very happy if such a step would help the future international investigation by an international tribunal, and Bulgaria would actively participate in the efforts of the international community,” Slavov commented.

Bulgaria's involvement in the Ukrainian Peace Formula

Slavov outlined the inclusion of the crime of "aggression" in Bulgaria's criminal code as part of their strategy. This addition would allow prosecution of the military-political leadership responsible for issuing orders related to military actions in Ukraine. Slavov clarified that evidence of war crimes often pertains to the operational level, while the crime of "aggression" targets higher management levels.

“At the European level, there is the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine. Our idea is for Bulgaria to actively contribute to European efforts because we have committed to this,” the minister said.

Additionally, Slavov emphasized Bulgaria's commitment to actively contribute to European initiatives in this regard. In November of the preceding year, Bulgaria formally endorsed the seventh point of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Peace Formula. This commitment entails efforts to restore justice and prosecute crimes committed in Ukraine.

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