Russia: Abducting Children

Maria Lvova-Belova

The ICC issued arrest warrants for Putin and this woman who is the Children’s Ombudsman in Russia, for the unlawful deportation and transfer of children from Ukraine to Russia.

Sunday 26 March 2023

Ukraine Morning Notes: Ukrainian Children

Podcast: The Daily 3/3/23

Children have become the spoils of war. 

  • Some children taken back to Russia and placed with Russian families.
  • Systematic removal, many from group homes, of Ukrainian children, relocated to Russia, planned to give them Russian citizenship.
  • Some children taken from their parents.
  • Parents might have been imprisoned.
  • Ukrainian officials have identified 16,000 children, mostly orphans.
  • Russians were portraying the operation as “rescuing” children.
  • Speaking to children who had had this experience, a Ukrainian reporter interviewed Anya.
  • 14 year old, eastern Ukraine, she was flagged to Ukrainian social services, inadequate parental supervision.  She was moved to a sanitorium, common in Ukraine, before the war.  She was among some 90,000 living in a group home in Mariupol.
  • When Russia invades, some children leave group home.  Anya does not get picked up.  She hides with other children.  They are evacuated to safer city, but at check point, pro-Russian officials decide to send them into Russian territory.
  • Bussed into Russia.  Children were not asked.
  • Rehabilitation facilities then moved into foster family with 6 other children.  She shares a room with 6 boys.  They treat her nicely.  She still wanted to go back home.
  • Many of these families are well-meaning.
  • She has patriotism classes in school.  The intent is teaching children how to be proud of Russia.
  • The children are told Ukraine is really bad.
  • She was given Russian citizenship, a passport.
  • In May, Putin streamlined the process of giving children Russian citizenship.
  • The Russians are not hiding this effort.  It portrays Russians as saviors of Ukrainian children.
  • This frames the war as a humanitarian issue.
  • Targeted at the domestic audience, it make it appear that Ukrainian doesn’t really exist, but is part of Russia.  These children are part of Russia, going back to where they belong.
  • Videos and articles and state media that shows children arriving in Russia and receiving Russian families. TV cameras, given teddy bears.
  • They are interviewed saying how happy they are to be in Russia.  Documentaries about the children.
  • It usually takes a family member to start the process of getting the children returned.
  • (Note: The NYT reporter finds it necessary to “play devil’s advocate” and argues that children are in a safer place.  Jesus.  She also repeats everything the Ukrainian reporter says, like a prosecutor who repeats each and every statement of the witness.  Drives you mad.  Also, there is this fake intensity to her voice, as if telling a ghost story to children.)
  • Anya’s mother is out of work and does not have access to the internet.  Her going to Russia to get her child back is about like her going to the moon.

Day 6: CBC Radio Podcast (3/24/23

  •  ICC charge against Putin and a Russian commentator who adopted children herself.
  • Maria is Children Ombudsman.  She appears in videos with Ukrainian children.  They use children as a tool to justify Russian action in Ukraine.

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