Original article (in Bosnian) was published on 19/08/2022
The web portal IN4S published an article claiming that “Western officials” are negotiating with Russia to exchange alleged NATO prisoners from Ukraine with war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.
On June 18, 2022, the web portal IN4S published an article under the following title:
(EXCLUSIVE) IN4S finds out: Mladic and Karadzic will soon be in Russia. Will they be exchanged for captured NATO officers in Ukraine?!
Citing a Twitter post by Russian politician Dmitry Rogozin, IN4S claims that Western officials are negotiating with Russian officials to exchange prisoners from Western countries and war criminals convicted in The Hague:
IN4S has found from reliable sources that Western officials are negotiating with the Russian side on exchanging prisoners of war and foreign mercenaries with Serbs imprisoned in European prisons.
As our source says, “one side in the negotiations insists on the principle of ‘all for all’, both in terms of the exchange of foreigners and the exchange of Ukrainian for Russian prisoners”.
On the other hand, Russia demands that Hague prisoners be released from European prisons in exchange for captured American, Canadian, and British officers and Croatian volunteers captured by the Donbas army.
Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic came into the public spotlight again after the statement of Roscosmos director Dimitrij Rogozin, who tweeted on his account that he hoped for the quick release of his friends Karadzic and Mladic.
“Captured NATO officers” from the title are not mentioned in the text of the article itself. Russian forces are said to have captured two Americans, former US military members.
Numerous web portals from the region reported the “exclusive news” about the alleged release of Mladic and Karadzic to Russia (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Who is the source of the claim?
The only named source in the article published on the web IN4S portal is Dmitry Rogozin, a Russian politician who since 2018 has been the director of Roscosmos, the Russian state corporation in charge of space exploration.
On his Twitter account, on June 13 of this year, Rogozin published two posts dedicated to Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic (link, link), which state:
Two heroes of the Serbian people and two of my friends. Professor Radovan Karadzic – former president of the Republic of Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina and General Ratko Mladic – legendary commander, commander of the Army of the Republic of Srpska. From 1994 to 1996, we met often. Someday I will tell you about it in detail.
I sincerely hope that it will be possible to get them out of the dungeons of The Hague, where for many years they have been trying to convict them for other people’s crimes, inspired by the United States and its supporters.
Serbs in Bosnia and the Serbian nation as a whole remain faithful to the tradition of our old friendship.
Rogozin, however, does not state in these announcements that Karadzic and Mladic will be exchanged for prisoners of war from Ukraine, nor have we been able to find with a Google search that any other Russian official talked about the exchange of Mladic and Karadzic.
IN4S cites these posts, which do not mention any exchange, but does not cite the source of information, nor does it provide any evidence to support them.
This web portal has previously published fake news by referring to anonymous sources, which Raskrinkavanje already wrote about in the analysis that you can read below:
Meaningless claims – here’s why
In 2016, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague sentenced Radovan Karadzic, the former president of the Republic of Srpska, to life imprisonment for war crimes, including genocide, committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s.
In 2017, the same court sentenced Ratko Mladic, former commander of the Republic of Srpska Army, to life imprisonment for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague was a United Nations court that dealt with war crimes that occurred during the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990s. The UN Security Council established the court with Resolution 827 in 1993.
The exchange of prisoners of war, as the term suggests, includes prisoners of war in a certain conflict, that is, soldiers captured by the opposing side, who may be part of the official armed forces of a country or guerrilla fighters and volunteers.
Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are not prisoners of war, nor were they involved in the war in Ukraine. They have been legally convicted of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina and are currently serving their life sentences.
Therefore, the claim that “Western officials” are planning to exchange them with prisoners of war from Ukraine is completely meaningless.
In connection with these claims, Raskrinkavanje contacted lawyer Nina Kisic, asking her to clarify whether such an exchange would be possible from a legal point of view.
As Kisic explained, considering that Karadzic and Mladic were convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the jurisdiction over the regime and the country of serving the sanctions rests with that court and no one else.
She explained that such an exchange would not be legally possible:
An exchange of that kind itself could not be legally possible. What could be done is for Russia (which is excluded at the moment) to accept that the sanctions imposed by the ICTY are being served in that country, so that these two people are transferred to serve their sentences (I think this is realistic in the realm of science fiction, bearing in mind the fact of numerous investigations conducted by the ICC against Russian citizens related to crimes in Ukraine).
Therefore, the claim that “Western officials” are planning to exchange Karadzic and Mladic with prisoners of war from Ukraine is completely meaningless.
In addition, the claim from the title that NATO officers were captured in Ukraine is also incorrect. NATO soldiers are not fighting in Ukraine.
In the end, these are completely fabricated claims for which no evidence is provided and which have no basis in reality. Even people close to convicted war criminals are unfamiliar with this “information”. The web portal BIRN, in an article about this disinformation, spoke with a member of Mladic’s defense team, Miodrag Stojanovic, who said that such claims are “complete insinuations”. The web portal IN4S, on the other hand, turned to the son of Ratko Mladic, who also said that he knew nothing about it.
Based on the facts, we assess the claim that Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic will soon be in Russia after the exchange with prisoners of war from Ukraine as fake news, and we evaluate all transmissions of these claims as the distribution of fake news.
We rate the claim from the title of the IN4S article that NATO officers are fighting in Ukraine, as fake news and clickbait.