In the interview he gave Cnn Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of forcing refugees fleeing Mariupol to go to Russia. ‘Several people ended up in Russia without documents. And we do not know where they are, “said the president. Adds that “among them are thousands of children. We want to know what happened and whether I am in good health or not.” Russia responded by waving Zelensky’s words as lies. And also arguing that Kiev hindered Moscow’s efforts to evacuate civilians from bombed-out cities.
The missing children from Mariupol
Meanwhile, a human rights group in Crimea condemned the Russians forcibly taking about 150 children away from Mariupol, 100 of whom were hospitalized, most of them taken from their parents. “The Russian army forcibly took about 150 children from Mariupol. He transferred them to the occupied Donetsk and Russian Taganrog leadership, “said Olha Skrypnyk, leader of the Crimean human rights group. According to Petro Andriushchenko, adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, most of the children, who are not orphans, were taken away without their parents. Among these are 16 who were in a wellness center in the city that was bombed by the Russians. And it was not about children who did not have family.
“The orphans, along with the staff at the orphanage, were evacuated from Mariupol on February 24 and 25,” said the official from the Human Rights Group in Crimea. As the mayor’s adviser noted, some of the kidnapped children have “lost their parents to Russia’s war crimes,” but “either they have guardians in unoccupied areas or are under state protection.” There Cnn he also spoke with a dozen witnesses, who spoke with Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory. They report that the military only gave them two options: “Go to Russia or die here.”
Ukrainian and US officials and independent human rights observers also claimed that Russian and separatist troops were bringing tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians to so-called filtering camps. That is, in areas where they are subjected to biometric screening and their phones and documents are confiscated before being sent to Russia. Among these is also Kira Obedinsky. The story of Kira, 12, is told by her grandfather Oleksander to the American media. Her mother died when she was little. His father Yevhen, a former captain of the Ukrainian water polo national team, was shot and killed when Russian forces moved into Mariupol on March 17.
A few days after the man’s death, Kira tried to escape on foot from Mariupol with her father’s partner. But after being injured in a mine explosion, the 12-year-old was taken to a hospital in the Donetsk region. Controlled by Ukrainian separatists recognized by Moscow. Now the grandfather is afraid he will never see her again. A separatist official invited him to go to the area, which was impossible due to the war. And then, the hospital leaders would tell him, at the end of the war, the girl will be sent to an orphanage in Russia. Also, according to his grandfather’s story, the Russians told him that the girl will get new documents when she crosses the border.
“I have not seen you for too long, I want to cry”
Meanwhile, the Russian media showed a video in which Kira cheerfully tells that she is allowed to call her grandfather. This, according to Mosca, would be proof that the girl was not kidnapped and that her story is yet another “fake” spread by the enemy. Meanwhile, Oleksander received an audio message from Kira asking him to cry. But, said her grandfather, it was she who was unable to hold back the tears: “I have not seen you for too long, I will cry.”
And just today, the self-proclaimed leader of the Crimea Serhy Aksyonov, according to Ukrainian sources, announced the establishment of summer “retraining camps” on the occupied peninsula territory for teachers from the Kherson, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhya regions. This was supported by the Center for Combating Disinformation (Ccd), a body of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (Nsdc). According to the CCD, Ukrainian children in the area will also be forced to take Russian language lessons. Yesterday, the son of the governor of Zaporizhzhia was also kidnapped. The Russian army allegedly stopped him at a roadblock while he was sitting in the car, and detained him when his father’s identity was discovered.
Cover image from Tvanouvelles.ca