Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children are believed to have been taken by Russia to Moscow-controlled areas of Ukraine or to Russia itself. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) wrote this in a report on Thursday.
“It appears that there is a plan to absorb them en masse,” said Veronika Belkova, a professor at the Faculty of Law in Prague, who conducted the study with two other experts.
Belkova said it is difficult to say exactly how many children have been deported, because the policy actually began in 2015, after the annexation of Crimea. According to the lowest estimates we can find, the number is around 20,000. But Russian and Ukrainian sources suggest numbers that are 10 or more times higher.” “So this is a really huge thing.”
The 82-page report cites repeated violations of children’s rights as a systematic pattern of integration into Russian families rather than help finding relatives. The report concludes that such a practice “could constitute a crime against humanity”.
Russia claims to protect “displaced” children, but according to the document’s authors, it has taken “legal and political measures (…) to promote the acquisition of Russian citizenship and their placement in a foster home.”
The transferred Ukrainian youths are also subjected to a pro-Russian media campaign aimed at re-educating them. They also undergo military training.
The report is based on written sources, about twenty interviews and a visit to Kiev in April. Russia refused to cooperate.
In March, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for the illegal deportation of children classified as war crimes.
According to official figures, the Ukrainian authorities have so far recovered only 360 children, while the number of victims is estimated at more than 19,000.
The 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was established in 1975 at the height of the Cold War to normalize relations between East and West, but its work has been complicated in recent months by Moscow’s obstruction of many key decisions. (Belgium)
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