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Human rights activist: Russia deliberately turns Ukrainian children into «enemies of their own nation»

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The National Resistance Center has disseminated information that Russians are sending 2,500 children to military exercises in Volgograd Region, including children from four temporarily occupied regions of Ukraine.

We talked about the crimes of Russians against Ukrainian children with Kateryna Rashevska, a human rights activist, legal expert at the Regional Center for Human Rights, and member of the Quebec Community of International Law.

«It is necessary to distinguish between those who were abducted with the intention of keeping them in Russia and those who are taken to such camps for 21 days, including militarized ones, to re-educate them, train them militarily, and return them to the occupied territories.»

According to Kateryna Rashevska, it is not fully known how the Russians choose whom they will train in such camps. Is there consent from parents and children? Or are these children deprived of parental care, for whom the decision to go there was made by adults or collaborators? Therefore, it is quite difficult to talk about numbers.

«We do not know who was taken and how. We know that the Russians plan to take 2-3 thousand Ukrainian children from the newly occupied territories to such militarization camps this year alone. These figures are not just stated, but often exceeded. A very large number of children will suffer.»

Kateryna Rashevska says that children can go to such a camp for free if they have Russian citizenship.

«Russians are also imposing Russian citizenship on the occupied territories, including on children. With this citizenship comes military service. There are clear connections here. Not a single element is accidental. This is a deliberate policy of the Russian Federation aimed at turning Ukrainian children into enemies of their own nation.«

According to the Russians, on May 29 this year, the first group from the Kherson region (36 boys and girls aged 14 to 17) left for the Yunyi Yastreb complex, where they will undergo military training.

«This training is very similar to a young soldier’s course. Based on its results, they will receive a certificate. And then, at the age of 18, they can be mobilized. Let me remind you that mobilization and conscription are illegal under international humanitarian law and reach the threshold of a war crime.»

Reference

As of March 2023, there were 4,390 Ukrainian orphans and children deprived of parental care in the temporarily occupied territories and in the Russian Federation. Before the full-scale Russian invasion, they were in special children’s institutions. The data was reported by the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Iryna Vereshchuk. According to her, Ukraine has provided the International Criminal Court with all the materials on the abduction of children. Sometimes the Russians themselves confirm the abduction of Ukrainian children.

As a reminder, as of the end of 2022, Russian official sources reported more than 700,000 Ukrainian children living in Russia at that time. These included deported (with their parents) and abducted children.

In March 2023, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova for the forced removal of Ukrainian children, which is a sign of genocide.

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