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Ukraine accuses Russia of violating international law by placing Ukrainian children in Russian families.


Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry condemned Russia’s human rights commissioner, saying that her actions in facilitating the transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia to be placed in Russian families constituted a criminal offence.

For the past several months, Russia has been promoting efforts to transfer abandoned or orphaned children from Ukraine to Russia to bring them into Russian families. In May, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin signed a decree simplifying the process through which Ukrainian children who are orphaned or without parental care can obtain Russian citizenship.

The transfer of Ukrainian children from the occupied territories to Russia and their adoption by Russian families is a potential war crime, and Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it was also an act. serious violation of the laws of Ukraine.

Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, organized the transfer. This week, she said, about 350 children have been brought into Russian families. Ms. Lvova-Belova previously said she herself had adopted a teenager from Mariupol, a city besieged by Russia since the beginning of the war, and had recently announced that the boy had acquired Russian citizenship.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday said it had called for a criminal case to be opened against Ms Lvova-Belova, who has been sanctioned by the West.

The total number of children that have been brought to Russia since the invasion in late February is not clear. In April, Russian authorities announced that more than 2,000 people had arrived in Russia, of which 100 were from recently occupied areas. Ukrainian authorities say they don’t have an exact number but their estimate is around 2,000.

The Ukrainian government says it has managed to repatriate dozens of children. On Thursday, Ukrainian officials said they would “continue to make every effort to ensure that Ukrainian children illegally captured and adopted in Russia are returned to their parents or legal guardians.” of them.”

After Russia illegally annexed four regions of Ukraine last month, Ms. Lvova-Belova announced plans to set up a mechanism to streamline the transfer of orphans from those regions to Russia. In recent days, reports of transfers from one of those regions – Kherson – have emerged.

Anastasia Kuznietsova contribution report.

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