Putin’s Advocate for Child Welfare Is Straight-Up Stealing Kids in Ukraine, U.K. Says

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

A Russian official tasked with ensuring the well-being of children is responsible for the “barbaric” kidnapping of thousands of Ukrainian kids swept up in forced adoptions in Russia, the British government said Thursday.

After months of warnings from Ukrainian officials about children literally being snatched from their homes, Vladimir Putin’s children’s rights commissioner was singled out by the British Foreign Office in its latest list of sanctions related to the war in Ukraine.

Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova is accused of facilitating a scheme in which thousands of Ukrainian children were “violently” taken to Russia for forced adoptions.

While she has repeatedly been portrayed as a hero in Russian state media and featured in fawning interviews about her efforts to supposedly “save” children in Ukraine’s war-ravaged Donbas, the U.K Foreign Office has accused her of bringing “untold suffering” to Ukrainian families.

Putin: I’ll Find New ‘Loving Families’ for Kids Orphaned by My War

They allege that she was behind the removal of “2,000 vulnerable children from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions” of Ukraine.

Lvova-Belova herself has boasted about her work in bringing children from eastern Ukraine to Russia, even posting photos of herself with them on Telegram and publicly expressing gratitude to Putin for signing a decree to “simplify the procedure to give Russian citizenship to orphans and children without parental care from [the Donetsk People’s Republic], [the Luhansk People’s Republic] and Ukraine.”

The decree, she said, “allows for the children to be taken under permanent care.”

During a meeting at the Kremlin in March, Lvova-Beloga told Putin of Russians “queuing up to take care of” 1,090 “orphans” from “various child-care facilities” in Ukraine.

Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly sounded the alarm over the matter, warning that some of the children who have been taken still have families in Ukraine but were separated from their parents by Russian authorities.

“From the testimony of those who have saved themselves, we know about these horrors that Russian troops are forcibly transporting people to Russia, where the children are separated from their mothers. They then send the mothers to Sakhalin, and the children to other cities. Is this really the 21st century?,” Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova wrote in a statement marking the International Day for the Protection of Children in early June.

Putin Still Wants Control of Whole of Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador Warns

Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has also said some of those forcibly deported to Russia for potentially “illegal” adoptions were kids whose parents were killed at the hands of Putin’s troops.

The United Nations issued a statement earlier this week telling Russian authorities they can’t just assume children are orphans and whisk them away.

“Any decision to move any child must be grounded in their best interests and any movement must be voluntary. Parents need to provide informed consent,” said Asfhan Khan, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) regional director for Europe and Central Asia.

Russia, meanwhile, has only doubled down on its plans to impose a new Russian identity on children in Ukraine. On Thursday, authorities in occupied Kherson announced that all children born after Feb. 24 would automatically be deemed Russian citizens.

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