Russia spends €8 mn to select “quality material” for adoption among Ukrainian children: report

Children abducted from Ukraine's Luhansk Oblast with their "foster mother" Larisa Lukina in Novosibirsk Oblast, Siberia, Russia. Photo: Source

Russian War Crimes

Russian authorities continue the forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Orphans from the occupied territories are often forcibly adopted by Russians, which is a large-scale scheme involving all branches of power in Russia.

Some children are later sent back to their orphanages due to health issues so Russia has even allocated funds to filter out unhealthy children from the forced adoption program. This is according to the analytical report on the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia presented by human rights defenders in Odesa last December.

The report has been prepared by the Ukraine-based organizations, Eastern Human Right Group and Institute for Strategic Research and Security.

Earlier Ukrainian Ombudsman said that the exact number of deported children is unknown, but it may be on the order of “hundreds of thousands.”

On 30 May 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree simplifying the Russian citizenship procedure for orphans from Ukraine. On 22 October 2022, the Russian government adopted a resolution on “an in-depth examination of the medical condition of children.”

“According to this resolution, Russians allocated 353 million rubles (or about 8 million euros – Ed.) for such an examination. We are talking about 82,000 children. The examination period is from 1 November to 31 December 2022. The Russian Federation decided that children who have diseases will be left in Ukraine, and those who can replenish the Russian Federation with, as they say, ‘quality material,’ will be filtered out, taken away, given citizenship, and have their data changed so that the children’s relatives could not find them,” Director of the Eastern Human Right Group Vera Yastrebova said on the presentation.

Vera Yastrebova added that in order for deported Ukrainian children to get to the “right” families, special propaganda courses were even created in Russia for families that are ready to “adopt” children.

Putin confirms Russia’s use of schemes to justify transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia – ISW

About a week before Russia’s full-scale invasion, the occupation authorities of Donetsk and Luhansk announced the “evacuation” of civilians claiming that Ukraine had started to shell the occupied areas. The first to be “evacuated” were orphans from orphanages in the territories controlled by the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics” (“LNR”and “DNR”).

“The Russian media and propagandists began to use the fact of the ‘evacuation’ of children as a tool of ‘informational pumping’ of the inhabitants of the RF (the Russian Federation, – Ed) with propaganda in order to make the audience acknowledge the main thing, which is the message that ‘the RF must protect the people of Donbas.’ And the little orphans of IAF LPR and DPR (“illegal armed formations of LNR and DNR,” – Ed.) were actually shown as a sacral victim so that the information field could justify the aggressive actions of the RF against Ukraine,” the report reads.

Starting from March 2022, the Russian former Ombudsperson for the protection of children’s rights, MP Anna Kuznetsova, and the country’s current children’s ombudswoman Maria Lvova-Belova started lobbying for the adoption of legislation to lift the ban on adoptions of children from foreign countries by Russian nationals.

Russia may have deported “hundreds of thousands” of Ukrainian children – Ukraine’s Ombudsman

On 30 May 2022, Putin amended two presidential decrees to simplify the obtaining of Russian citizenship for foreigners, which included Ukrainian orphans.

“In fact, these decrees of Putin allowed orphans and children without guardianship from DPR, LPR, and the rest of Ukraine to obtain citizenship of the RF in a simplified manner. After such legislative changes, the processes of adoption of children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine by citizens of the RF were recorded,” the report says.

The Russian occupation administrations in Ukraine’s occupied territories stepped up the work of the commissions that supervised the observance of the rights of minors. From April through October 2022, such commissions filed more than 38,000 cases with the deprivation of parental rights of “people who cannot provide a certain standard of living for a child.”

Notably, many of such children lost their fathers to Russian forced mobilization and subsequent use of them as soldiers to fight against Ukrainian troops. These commissions collected facts that a mother or grandparents “cannot adequately support children,” and took the children away through the occupation courts, then the occupation authorities deported them as children deprived of parental care to Russia to forcibly issue them Russian citizenship through an assigned guardian.

“In parallel with the processes of deportation of children in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, the RF has developed a manual on the ideological education of children from LNR, DNR, and the rest of Ukraine for parents from the RF who want to adopt such children.”

The authors of the report point out that Russia’s forced deportation of Ukrainian children is “one of the methods of the Kremlin’s hybrid war against Ukraine, as well as an act of genocide of the Ukrainian people.”

Russians deported “more than 100” Luhansk children to Chechnya for “patriotic education” – Luhansk Oblast Head

According to the report, the foster parents must meet ideological criteria, which means that “such actions must completely erase the Ukrainian identity of the deported children and distort the historical memory.”

The forced adoptions are aimed at increasing the share of Russian citizens “of Slavic appearance” as the Kremlin is concerned that over time, the Slavic population of Russia may become a minority.

“If we analyze the process of children’s medical examination, which is enshrined in the order of the Russian government dated October 22, 2022, signed by Mishustin, the Kremlin needs only healthy children and they leave the sick in the territories of Ukraine temporarily occupied by the RF,” the report reads.

Russia’s forced adoption programs and the deportation of children under the guise of vacation and rehabilitation schemes likely form the backbone of a massive Russian depopulation campaign that may amount to a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and constitute a wider ethnic cleansing effort, as the Washington-based thinktank Institute for the Study of War noted on multiple occasions.

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