May 11, 2023, 19:26

Representatives of Save Ukraine network bring back 96 Ukrainian children from russian captivity — Mykola Kuleba

In six missions, Save Ukraine rescue network returned 96 children, who had been illegally detained by russia, back to Ukraine.

Mykola Kuleba, Executive Director of Save Ukraine, Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights (2014-2021) made this statement during a press conference at Media Center Ukraine — Ukrinform.

“Currently, we are preparing the seventh rescue mission, and we have already returned 96 Ukrainian children from russian captivity,” he said.

At the same time, Mykola Kuleba talked about the methods russia uses to illegally relocate Ukrainian children to russia and the occupied regions of Ukraine. According to him, the occupiers use manipulation, pressure and threats.

“In the occupied territories, residents find themselves isolated, without mobile connection, without access to the Internet. And the only information they receive is the information from the occupiers, who say that the territories will not return to Ukraine, and if they want to survive, they must follow the instructions of the occupiers to the letter, and any disobedience will be severely punished. There are also threats to deprive people of parental rights and take away their children in case of non-compliance with the instructions of the occupiers,” he explained.

Kuleba noted that the testimonies of children and parents showed that after Ukraine de-occupied its territories, the russian side did not try to return the children or find their relatives and friends.

“After the territories were de-occupied, the children became hostages in the enemy territory, who made a conscious decision not to return these children to their parents. This is evidenced by the fact that among all the children that we returned, we did not find a single case of someone from the russian side trying to find their parents or relatives. There was not a single case, despite the fact that the russian side reports that they made every effort to find their relatives, parents or close ones and return them (the children – Ed.) home,” added the Executive Director of the charity organization.

In addition, Kuleba pointed out another way of abducting Ukrainian children through forced relocation, which the russians officially call evacuation and rescue.

“The russian occupiers relocate the civilian population to the territory of the russian federation or to temporarily occupied territories by force. For this, the occupiers create inhumane conditions in the occupied territories. There is intimidation, arrests, lack of humanitarian and medical aid, power outages, as well as lack of water, heating, and an opportunity to leave for Ukraine-controlled territories. In this way, conditions are created when the only way to escape is to go to the territory of the russian federation or to other temporarily occupied territories,” he noted.

Kuleba also reported that russia illegally deports orphaned children, children whose parents were killed or went missing, parents who were imprisoned or put into filtration camps. According to Kuleba, the occupiers give these children the status of children who arrived to russia without a legal representative. Then they are sent either to an orphanage or to russian families.

According to the information made public by Kuleba, orphaned children brought up in special boarding schools are also being deported.

“Despite the fact that the children used to have a Ukrainian headmaster, who had been appointed by the authorities as the legal representative of these children, the occupiers appoint their own headmasters of these institutions from among collaborators. They make illegal decisions about the treatment or non-treatment of children, their relocation without the consent of parents’ relatives and legal representatives, about children becoming russian citizens, and submit relevant applications on their behalf. In this way, orphans without legal representatives can “officially” become russian citizens.”

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