Putins time is up as Russian president will face justice, says top barrister

Putin says ‘the organisers of this rebellion will face justice’

In an address to the nation, President Vladimir Putin sought to reassure his people that the danger of civil war was over.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the Wagner Group, had momentarily challenged the power structure in Moscow and took at least one Russian city in the south, before agreeing to a deal with Putin that saw him exiled to Belarus.

The episode was a rare instance of a chink appearing in Putin’s leadership, something that has rarely if at all happened in his 23 years in office.

While things are calm for now, many claim Putin’s days in power are numbered.

This includes Catriona Murdoch, a leading British Barrister who has been investigating crimes against humanity in Ukraine, and who believes Putin will soon “face justice”.

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Ms Murdoch and a team recently drew on extensive field research to conclude that Putin’s forces carried out the Kakhovka Dam explosion earlier this month which has wiped out swathes of land, displaced thousands of people, as well killing some 50.

She has spent years carrying out work to help prosecute dictators and despots and said that even years after the crimes have been committed, justice is usually served.

“But what I see happening with this is hopefully a swifter form of justice,” she told Express.co.uk.

“I have all confidence in the strength and capability of the Ukrainian prosecutors to push through prosecutions domestically, and to do that fairly and competently, and to achieve justice inside of Ukraine, which I think is really important.”

She continued: “I think then you will also see, given the political will, some movement in European prosecutions, European universal jurisdiction, and then up into the International Criminal Court (ICC).

While some cases against leaders like Putin can take decades, Ms Murdoch believes things here are “really different”.

She said: “I’ve worked on recently Yemen, Syria, Tirgay, is this political will behind it, and that’s really important in terms of supporting investigations and supporting the Ukrainians.

“But it’s also really important in terms of actually enforcing arrest warrants.”

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Ms Murdoch added: “So I think because there is this real drive behind accountability in this conflict, and you have a wide consensus of actors who are going to be willing to actually affect an arrest warrant if somebody’s passing through their jurisdiction.

“I think we could see justice and accountability move faster in this context.”

An ICC arrest warrant is already out for Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, in relation to the mass and forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Because Russia does not recognise the court and does not extradite its citizens, it is unlikely Putin or Lvova-Belova will be surrendered to the court’s jurisdiction anytime soon.

But the warrant remains highly significant because it sends a signal to senior Russian officials that they may be vulnerable to protection either now or in the future, limiting their ability to travel and attend international summits.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian officials told the BBC that they believed Putin’s days were numbered in light of Wagner’s attempted mutiny.

Andriy Yermak, President Zelensky’s closest adviser, told the broadcaster that he believed “the countdown has started”.

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