Kavkaz.Realii: ‘To poison with propaganda’. Deportation of children from Ukraine to Rostov

Since February 2022, Russia has expelled approximately 4.8 million residents, including around 700,000 children, from the occupied Ukrainian territories, according to Ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova. Some of these minors have been placed with foster families, while others are being kept in sanatoriums located in the southern regions and annexed Crimea. It’s been claimed that these children were sent voluntarily by their parents. However, Kiev views this mass removal of children as a criminal act. The Kavkaz.Realii website has attempted to investigate the reasons behind this forced deportation and the conditions under which these children are being held in the border region of Rostov.

A report by the anti-discrimination center “Memorial” highlights that the removal of children from the separatist “DNR” and “LNR” began even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On February 19, 2022, 250 children arrived from various orphanages in Donetsk to the Romashka complex. The following day, on February 20, 74 children from an orphanage in Luhansk were transported to Rostov-on-Don. This number eventually grew to 400 children. Later on, 27 children from Romashka were placed under the guardianship of residents from the Moscow Region.

Memorial expert Olga Abramenko mentioned in a conversation with Kavkaz.Realii that the figures in the center’s report are derived from open sources and accounts provided by volunteers. Determining the exact number of children who have been taken away is an extremely challenging task.

“These children could include orphans who resided in orphanages or tragically lost their parents during the hostilities. However, this number might also encompass those who departed for Russia with other relatives, such as grandparents or aunts, and subsequently had guardianship arrangements established, especially if their parents remained in the occupied territories,” the expert clarifies.

Abramenko, an expert at the Memorial Center, also points out a shift in the language used by Russian officials, particularly following the issuance of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Russian President Putin and children’s ombudsman Lvova-Belova in connection with their alleged involvement in the abduction of children from Ukraine. However, the human rights activist contends that no distinct system for the “re-education” of Ukrainian children has been established. Instead, these children are placed into the existing Russian environment, which is heavily influenced by propaganda.

“Russian educational institutions are permeated with a militaristic ideology. In schools, children are compelled to take part in what they call ‘Conversations about Important Matters’ and are exposed to bizarre productions that involve showcasing military uniforms. Russian children may find this distressing, but for Ukrainian children, who have already endured harrowing experiences, it’s an additional layer of anguish when they are placed in an environment explicitly designed to alter their national consciousness,” the speaker expressed.

Read the full article on the Kavkaz.Realii website