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Teen deported to Russia from Mariupol returns to Ukraine

Bogdan Ermokhin, who was forcibly deported to Russia and adopted in 2022, found himself at risk of conscription into the Russian army just after his 18th birthday. Today, he has successfully returned to Ukraine.
Bogdan Yermokhin. Photo: Dmytro Lubinets via Telegram
Teen deported to Russia from Mariupol returns to Ukraine

17-year-old Ukrainian teen Bogdan Ermokhin, who was forcibly deported by Russian authorities from the occupied city of Mariupol and faced attempted conscription into the Russian army, returned to Ukraine, according to Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner Dmytro Lubinets.

“On 19 November, his birthday, Bogdan returned to Ukraine. The homecoming was facilitated through coordination between the State of Qatar, UNICEF, the Embassy of Ukraine in Belarus, and negotiations with the Russian side,” Lubinets wrote on Telegram.

This morning, Bogdan Ermokhin arrived in Minsk from Moscow and was welcomed by his sister. Together, they headed back to Ukraine.

Bogdan Yermokhin with his sister. Photo: Dmytro Lubinets via Telegram

The case of Bogdan Yermokhin drew attention from his lawyer, Kateryna Bobrovska. She posted on social media that the boy had received a notice to report for a medical examination at the Moscow region’s military enlistment office on 19 December 2023. Since Bogdan would turn 18 on 19 November 2023, he would become an adult under Russian law and could end up being conscripted into the Russian army. After this, the Russian children’s rights ombudswoman Maria Lvova-Belova promised that Yermokhin would be returned to Ukraine.

During the early stages of the full-scale invasion, 17-year-old Bohdan Yermokhin was forcibly moved from occupied Mariupol to Russia. He was placed with a foster family, even though he has a sister in Ukraine, and given a Russian passport.

Russian propagandists claim that Bogdan is doing well and have featured his story in multiple television reports. However, on 23 March 2022, Bogdan went missing. He was found over a thousand kilometers away, at the Belarusian border. Lvova-Belova accused Ukrainian intelligence agencies of attempting to kidnap him.

Bogdan Yermokhin is part of the “List of 31,” a group of children whose existence was revealed by Mariupol resident Yevhen Mezhevyy. Mezhevyy had three children deported to Russia but later had them returned. A similar document was discovered in the hacked emails of Denis Pushilin, the head of the “DNR. Children from this list were taken from the occupied regions in eastern Ukraine to the Moscow region in May 2022.

Among these children was Pylyp Holovnia, whom Maria Lvova-Belova personally adopted, and Russian propaganda turned into its poster child.

Maria Lvova-Belova and Vladimir Putin. Photo: Kremlin.ru

The deportation of Ukrainian children led to the issuance of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on 17 March 2023 for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova.

Russia has forcibly transferred nearly 5 million Ukrainians, including over 700,000 children, from Ukraine to Russia since launching its full-scale invasion in 2022.

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