Putin’s ‘biggest fear’ unearthed as President ‘afraid’ over accountability for war crimes

Russia’s goal is to 'erase’ Ukraine says Bucha resident

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This week US President Joe Biden called for Putin to be tried for war crimes as evidence emerged of atrocities allegedly committed by Russia’s forces during its invasion of Ukraine.  Mr Biden’s intervention comes following the publication of satellite photos by earth observation company Maxar which showed bodies lining the streets of Bucha during the town’s Russian occupation. Ukraine has started a war crimes investigation after it said that 410 civilian bodies had been found in areas around Kyiv.

Some were discovered in mass graves while others had their hands tied and were allegedly shot from close range. 

Russia claims that no civilians suffered under the Russian occupation of Bucha and insist that the images of the atrocities had been staged by Ukraine.

Mr Biden, however, said: “You may remember I got criticised for calling Putin a war criminal. 

“You saw what happened in Bucha ‒ he is a war criminal ‒ but we have to gather all the details so this can have a war crimes trial.”

Read More: ‘Take them all f***ing out!’ Leaked audio of Putin’s ‘war crimes’

The US President wants his Russian counterpart to be “held accountable” for alleged atrocities committed by his country’s military in Ukraine, which according to Vladimir Kara-Mazra, a Russian opposition politician, is one of Putin’s biggest fears. 

Mr Kara-Mazra, who was a candidate for the Russian Parliament and served as deputy leader of the People’s Freedom Party, claimed that Putin was “afraid” of being held accountable for his regime’s crimes.

He made the claim in November 2020 after the Russian parliament’s legislative committee rubber stamped a bill granting former Russian presidents lifelong immunity from prosecution. 

The bill stated that a former president cannot be indicted for criminal or administrative charges nor can they be detained, arrested or searched.

Writing in the Washington Post upon the bill being passed, Mr Kara-Mazra said: “One of the immunity bill’s co-authors, Andrei Klishas said that it aimed to prevent ‘unfounded prosecution of a former head of state’.

“The word ‘unfounded’ notwithstanding ‒ other deposed dictators from Slobodan Milosevic to Alberto Fujimori, also thought their persecutions to be without merit ‒ such candour from a senior Russian official is astounding.

“Klishad, a member of the Russian parliament’s upper house confirms what analysts have long known to be Putin’s biggest fear: that he could be held to account once he loses the protection of his Kremlin office.”

He continued: “The fear is understandable.

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“Over his past two decades in power, Putin has done many things for which he could be held liable both under domestic and international law ‒ from rigging elections, jailing opponents, silencing media outlets, and other abuses of power to atrocities committed during conflicts in Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine and Syria.”

Mr Kara-Mazra was not the only Russian politician to note Putin’s fear of losing the protection of the Kremlin. 

During a domestic television interview Lev Shlosberg, a Russian opposition leader and regional lawmaker, said: “Putin is afraid of the very topic of a change in government, a topic that is increasingly finding its way into even the most loyal circles.

“Putin’s fears show his uncertainty about the future.

“They reflect his realisation that the regime can change ‒ and that this will raise the question of his accountability.”

The West imposed another severe set of coordinated sanctions against Russia after the evidence of war crimes emerged in Bucha.

The US state department said it had credible reports of rape, torture and summary executions carried out by Russian forces.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said it was “fairly obvious” Russia had been behind the Bucha atrocities, though more investigation is needed to ascertain which units in particular were responsible.

US state department spokesperson Ned Price said: “There are reports and images of a nightmare litany of atrocities.”

On Monday, night during a televised address Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky also accused Russia of war crimes and warned that Putin may attempt to cover up evidence of other atrocities. 

Mr Zelensky said: “I’m sure you know about the new old tactics of Russian propagandists who are constantly trying to reject accusations of the Russian military. 

“Now they are doing the same thing. The same lies. 

“They are trying to distort the facts, but as then, they will not succeed. They will not be able to deceive the whole world.”

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