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Estonian and Latvian parliaments first to call Russia on war crimes and genocide in Ukraine

At its session on April 21, Estonian Riigikogu (parliament) gave the floor to Olena Shuliak, head of the Ukrainian parliamentary delegation, and unanimously passed the statement on war crimes and genocide committed by Russia in Ukraine. The parliament announced its decision on the official website.

“In the temporarily occupied territories, in particular in the cities of Bucha, Borodyanka, Hostomel, Irpin, and Mariupol, and in many other Ukrainian communities, the Russian Federation has committed, inter alia, mass atrocities against the civilian population as acts of genocide. These consist of murders, kidnappings, deportations, imprisonments, torture, rape, as well as desecration of corpses,” states the Riigikogu.

Olena Shuliak, a Servant of the People deputy, emphasized at the session that the vote was of historical significance for Ukraine. According to her, condemning Russia’s acts as genocide against the Ukrainian nation is crucial not only in the memory of dozens of thousands of dead but also for survivors of torture and rape.

“Categorized as such, this crime will inevitably be prosecuted. Everyone will go on trial, from the executors to Vladimir Putin,” said Shuliak.

The Latvian Saeima followed in their Estonian peers’ steps and passed a similar statement. The document expresses Latvia's support for and solidarity with the Ukrainian nation and condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a violation of the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Furthermore, the Saeima eventually amended Latvia’s nationality law to make it possible to strip individuals who support the hostilities in Ukraine of Latvian citizenship, writes Delfi. The newly amended law applies to those who provide substantial support to states and people guilty of war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, or crimes violating the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of democratic countries, as well as those who have committed such acts.

The parliaments of Estonia and Latvia have been the first in the world to recognize Russia’s acts in Ukraine as war crimes and genocide.

Earlier today, on April 21, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the closing of Latvia's consulates in Saint Petersburg and Pskov, as well as the General Consulates of Estonia and Lithuania in Saint Petersburg. All of their personnel have been declared non grata. As the Russian MFA explains on its website, the decision was a response to these countries closing down Russia’s diplomatic missions.

On April 4, Lithuania downgraded its diplomatic relations with Russia, expelled the Russian ambassador, and shut down the Russian consulate in Klaipeda. On the same day, Latvia followed suit and announced a review of its diplomatic relations with Russia. Further on, Estonia and Latvia expelled 27 Russian diplomats.

Since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. And Europe have expelled around 300 Russian diplomats, with the Russian MFA pledging to respond in kind.

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