IFRC keeps Russian Red Cross active despite neutrality breach claims (updated)

Red Cross
Red Cross

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has ignored violations of neutrality its Russian branch uncovered by international media and will not suspend the group's membership, The Guardian reported.

The decision follows a four-day meeting of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the umbrella group of national societies, in Geneva.

The IFRC has the authority to suspend the membership of those who violate the principles of neutrality and independence of the Red Cross.

Last year, it took such action against the Belarusian branch.

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Citing leaked Kremlin documents, the investigation showed how the Russian government finances Red Cross branches in occupied Ukrainian territories.

Rather than suspending the Russian branch, the IFRC will instead establish an oversight body and request that the identified problems and anticipated integrity violations be addressed.

The investigation also uncovered conversations among RRC regional leaders advocating for war against "Ukrainian Nazis," with staff frequently attending military training events for children.

Earlier this year, the Russian Red Cross signed a memorandum of cooperation with Artek, a youth camp in occupied Crimea, where some deported Ukrainian children were sent.

RRC chair Pavel Savchuk was a board member of the All-Russia People's Front (APF), a Kremlin-created movement that holds the (anti-Ukraine - ed.) letter Z as its trademark symbol. His photo was removed from the organization's website earlier this year after journalists began questioning his affiliation.

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The IFRC suspended Belarusian Red Cross activities last year after revealing that its leader wore the Z symbol and expressed support for the abduction of Ukrainian children.

The Russian branch "cooperated during the investigation," and purportedly "no evidence of many accusations" was found.

The committee also recommended conducting training on Red Cross principles for all employees, the IFRC said.

Ukrainian ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets criticized the IFRC on April 27 for justifying the Russian Red Cross's illegal actions, saying that the IFRC is acting as an advocate for the RRC and "turning a blind eye to crimes."

He condemned the IFRC for supporting RRC activities in temporarily occupied Crimea.

Russian Red Cross activities in occupied Ukrainian territories

After the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, RRC representatives visited occupied territories where they mistreated Ukrainian prisoners, openly supported Russia's war against Ukraine, and accepted Ukrainian refugees alongside Russian military personnel, Russian publication Meduza announced in February as part of the international investigative journalism project Kremlin Leaks.

Leaked internal documents from the Russian president's administration reveal that the Russian state allocated funds to the RRC for work in the "new territories": the occupied Ukrainian territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhya, and Kherson oblasts.

Unlike the International Committee of the Red Cross, national Red Cross societies are not mandated to operate in conflict zones.

The RRC, however, began showing interest in working with residents of the occupied territories of Ukraine in the first months of Russia's war of aggression.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine