Russian alleged deportation of Ukrainian kids
(CNN, KYMA/KECY) - A stunning report details the transportation of as many as 6,000 children from occupied parts of Ukraine to a network of camps across Russia and occupied Crimea, according to the report by the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab.
Some kids have been given weapons training, many have undergone forms of re-education, and others were sent to foster families in Russia or put for Russian adoption.
This person, Russia's Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova, claims to be the savior of Ukrainian children.
"Mothers of many children, we are like this," Lvova-Belova spoke.
Something far more sinister
Demure, devout and devoted, Lvova-Belova says, to welcoming orphaned or abandoned children of war to the motherland.
But this is no humanitarian adoption program; Lvova-Belova is in fact in charge of something far more sinister.
According to both the American and European governments, and a new report by Yale University, thousands of Ukrainian children have been forcibly deported to Russia.
Although Moscow denies it’s doing this against their will, some have been taken thousands of miles and several time zones away from Ukraine.
"Maria Lvova-Belova is basically the point person at the Kremlin-level for this entire program," said Nathaniel Raymond, Executive Director of the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab.
When asked if he believed these children we being held hostage, Raymond said, "Yes."
Deportations are no secret
The woman in charge is herself a 38-year-old mother of at least 10, including five adopted children; her work takes her all the way into the occupied territories.
"This time we came to Mariupol itself. We will do everything for the children and teenagers who are here," Lvova-Belova spoke further.
From Lvova-Belova's telegram channel to Russian propaganda videos, the deportations are no secret.
Yet the children are totally beyond the reach of either their families or Ukrainian authorities.
"Some of those children are really small. We see on the propaganda video of Russian that, you know, [six-to-seven] months or...four years, those children just do not remember where they are from, who are the parents," said Alyona Lunyova, Advocacy Director for ZMINA Human Rights Center.
Maybe lost for good
However, once across the border, there is no contact anyway.
Some are adopted by Russian families while others are taken to what are billed as summer camps. In fact, re-education centers aimed at turning Ukrainian children into Russian citizens.
"Unfortunately, we see that these children were brought up in a completely different culture and they did not watch the same films our children watched. They did not study history as our children did," Lvova-Belova said.
But Ukrainian lawyers fighting for the return of the children, fearing that those already adopted maybe lost for good.
"During this process of adoption, parents can change all personal data, names, surnames, date of birth, and we think that some children were transferred to Russia without documents," said Kateryna Rashevska, Ukrainian lawyer.
Among those is a young boy from Mariupol already adopted by Maria Lvova-Belova herself.
At first, she says he sang the Ukrainian national anthem. Now he’s a good boy, as she told Vladimir Putin himself earlier this week.