Moscow takes Ukrainian orphans to Russian families; the number of children killed is increasing

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Children of internally displaced persons attend a patriotic lesson in an air-raid shelter in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa on September 1, on the occasion of the Day of knowledge. File photo by EPA-EFE

September 18 (UPI) — A senior official in Moscow said authorities were working to place 125 Ukrainian children described as “orphans” taken from the occupied Ukrainian province of Donetsk by Russian families.

“All the children who were brought in have already received Russian citizenship and are settled according to Russian law,” Maria Lvova-Belova, Russian presidential commissioner for children’s rights, told reporters.

Lvova-Belova said Russian psychologists traveled to Donetsk and “conducted psychological tests with the children” before showing them videos of prospective adoptive parents.

“Each child was given the opportunity to choose from three or four families, then they communicated via video link and already decided which family they went to, and the psychologist took this compatibility into account,” Lvova-Belova said.

The forcible transfer of children from one group of people to another is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The US Treasury Department and the US State Department on Thursday announced a series of new sanctions against 22 officials in Russia, including Lvova-Belova.

Lvova-Belova, who reports directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, “led Russia’s efforts to deport thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

“Lvova-Belova’s efforts specifically include the forced adoption of Ukrainian children into Russian families, the so-called ‘patriotic upbringing’ of Ukrainian children, legislative changes to expedite the granting of citizenship of the Federation of Russia to Ukrainian children and the deliberate removal of Ukrainian children by Russian forces,” the Treasury Department said.

It has also been sanctioned by Australia, Britain, Canada, the European Union and Switzerland.

Lvova-Belova blasted the sanctions against her in comments made to Russian state news agency TASS.

“Today I was blacklisted by the United States. The only thing that worries me is that they won’t be able to pronounce my last name correctly,” she said. .

“But seriously, it’s sad that a country that considers itself a bastion of democracy thinks that the children of Donbass don’t deserve these rights. That’s why we work to defend these positions, helping children to preserve their right to live under a peaceful sky and be happy.”

Putin on Friday called the sanctions against the so-called children’s rights ombudsman “outrageous” as well as claims that Russia abducts children from Ukraine in comments to TASS.

“It is quite natural that she evacuated children from the area of ​​combat operations or dangerous areas of Donbass. What’s wrong with that? We should thank her for that and make her deep bow,” Putin said. “Is it fair to sanction this? It’s outrageous.”

Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said in a statement to Telegram on Sunday that 390 children had been killed by Russian forces since February 24.

An 11-year-old girl died in a Russian shelling of a residential area in the city of Chugiv in Ukraine’s Kharkiv province on Saturday, officials said. A 2-year-old boy was injured in a shelling in Donetsk on Saturday.

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