In a new development in the war in Ukraine, Russian forces are accused of kidnapping thousands of Ukrainian children, forcibly adopting them into Russian families, and subjecting them to a process of indoctrination and brainwashing. As Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) scramble to return these children to their families, the international community is calling Russia out for this war crime. Ukrainian children are being used as pawns in Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, according to a report released by The Associated Press. Ukrainian authorities are pushing for the return of these children forcibly adopted into Russian families. “There are 16,121 children known by name” explained Nataliya Khomyak, Director of Operations for Orphan’s Promise. “However, there are over 300,000 that the Russian commissioner for children’s rights is claiming they’ve taken. These children have been taken illegally to Russia given Russian citizenship and adopted into Russian families.”
Last May, Russian President Vladimir Putin changed Russian adoption laws to simplify the process and enable these illegal adoptions. “(A) majority of them do have living parents or relatives. And so many of them they have been illegally and forcefully separated from their parents. When the parents were taken into so-called ‘filtration camps’ where the parents have been checked for their allegiance to Ukraine and charged with that as a crime, and the children would be separated and taken into Russia or some into the occupied Crimea.” Sofiia Kornieieva, a Ukrainian human rights lawyer, recalled, “When the mother with her four-year-old daughter tried to go to past this filtration camp, and then they separate her from her daughter she had to give her little daughter to some woman she didn’t even know, and we still don’t know what happened to her.” The children are often sent to remote parts of Russia, where they are brainwashed and turned against their own families.
Kornieieva said, “They were transferred to Russia without any connection, without even cell phones or money. They have no opportunity to connect with Ukrainian authorities or their relatives in Ukraine. “Parents are encouraged to send their children to summer camps,” Khomyak said. “But they never return.” Putin and his children’s rights commissioner face crimes against humanity for these disturbing practices. The Russians say they took the children for their protection and are working with foreign organizations to repatriate them. Ukrainian authorities have been working tirelessly to have these children returned. On April 9th, a group of 31 Ukrainian children were reunited with their families in Kyiv, a happy ending to an ongoing nightmare for at least a few Ukrainian mothers. But there are many more still missing. “It is unreal that those scenes are going on just now, in the centre of Europe,” Kornieieva said. “But they do. Just imagine how those women feel.”
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