Russia systematically abducts children from Ukraine, gives them to Russian families
Russia systematically abducts Ukrainian children from the occupied territories, trying to brainwash them and place them with Russian families, according to the Kyiv Independent’s first feature investigative documentary film.
Over 19,000 forcibly deported kids have been identified. But by some estimates, this “stolen generation” may number up to 100,000.
The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's commissioner on child rights for allegedly organizing the abductions.
Russia subverted the social services, medical facilities and children’s centers in Donetsk Oblast, using them in its kidnapping scheme. Children were deported from Donetsk to the other occupied territories and kept in hospitals.
Some were then deported to Russia under the pretext of "recovery," but they were placed with Russian families, camps, or orphanages instead, according to the investigation.
The Kyiv Independent has identified Russian families involved in adopting these children illegally.
Some children managed to return to Ukraine with the help of charitable organizations. But those who still remain in Russia face difficulties in expressing their will to return due to fear and control.
The journalists also identified one Russian family where an abducted Ukrainian child currently resides, with relatives in Ukraine desperate to bring her home.
The Kyiv Independent talked to parents who went to retrieve their children from Russia and the occupied territories.
Despite efforts to return the abducted children, the Russians are resisting, as they consider the children potential witnesses to war crimes. Moscow is refusing to provide lists of abducted children, hindering the volunteers to facilitate their return to Ukraine.
Child abduction and deportation is a severe violation of international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law. It is one of the five prohibited acts under the Genocide Convention of 1948.
Alexander Khrebet for The Kyiv Independent