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Government and DA agree not to proceed with Putin application

President Cyril Ramaphosa with Russian leader Vladimir Putin during the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in 2019. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa with Russian leader Vladimir Putin during the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in 2019. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Published Jul 21, 2023

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The government and the official opposition DA have agreed that the application for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin if he sets foot in the country should no longer proceed in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Government agreed to pay costs for the application.

The DA had gone to the North Gauteng High Court where it was seeking an order to force the government to arrest Putin for alleged war crimes.

The international Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin and Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova in March over an alleged scheme to deport Ukrainian children to Russia.

But this week President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Putin will no longer attend the summit, physically. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation confirmed on Thursday that Putin will now participate virtually.

In court papers this week, the Department of Justice Director-General, Doctor Mashabane confirmed that his department had written to National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi for the issuance of an arrest warrant for Putin.

“Please find enclosed herewith for your urgent attention the two letters of request for cooperation received from the Registry of the International Criminal Court regarding Mr Vladimir Vladiminovich Putin and Ms Maria Alkeseyevna Lvova-Belova. The requests for provisional arrests are forwarded to your office as set out in section 9 of the implementation of the Rome Statute Act 2002 (Act No. 27 of 2002),” wrote Mashabane.

The department said on Thursday it was not the first time that Putin has decided not to travel to a summit over issues relating to the conflict in Ukraine.

Last November, he pulled out of the G20 summit in Indonesia because Western leaders had threatened to stage a walkout if he attended.

Director-General in the department of international relations and cooperation Zane Dangor said on Thursday that when the ICC issued a warrant of arrest against Putin they started discussions of options of how the issue of the summit would be handled.

The three options were either to move the summit away from South Africa to another BRICS country or to have a completely virtual summit or Putin following the summit in South Africa, virtually, with the rest of the BRICS leaders physically present at the summit.