17th March 2023 – (The Hague) The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his children’s rights commissioner Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, over the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children. The decision was made by the court’s pre-trial judges who assessed that there were “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children”.
While the judges considered issuing secret warrants, they ultimately decided that making them public could “contribute to the prevention of the further commission of crimes”. It is important to note that Moscow has publicly stated that it does not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC.
This latest development marks a significant escalation in the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, as it targets not only Putin himself but also one of his top officials.
Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, born and raised in Penza, Russia, is a former guitar teacher and conductor who graduated from the A. A. Arkhangelsky College of Culture and Arts in 2002. She co-founded and heads the Penza regional public organization, “Blagovest,” which aims to promote social adaptation. Lvova-Belova has also held several positions in the Civic Chamber of Penza Oblast and the Russian Federation. In 2019, she joined the United Russia party and was elected to the Presidium of the General Council, becoming the co-chair of the working group to support civil society.
In 2020, she was appointed as a member of the Federation Council of Russia from Penza Oblast’s executive branch. In October 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed her as the federal Commissioner for Children’s Rights. However, Lvova-Belova has been accused by Ukrainian and British officials of overseeing the forcible deportation and adoption of children from Ukraine during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In response, the EU and Japan have both sanctioned Lvova-Belova.
Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, has been married to Pavel Kogelman, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, since 2003. Together, they have five biological children, born in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2014, and 2018, as well as eighteen adopted children. In February 2023, Lvova-Belova caused controversy when she announced that she had adopted a child from Mariupol, an area of eastern Ukraine occupied by Russian forces during the 2022 invasion. This announcement led to criticism due to the forced deportation of children from the region.