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Expert: Russia sent over 8,300 Ukrainian children to 're-education camps' in 2023

by Martin Fornusek October 30, 2023 7:31 PM 1 min read
Children stand holding Russian flags in the children's center Artek, run by the Russian government in occupied Crimea, Ukraine, in February 2023. The U.S. State Department introduced sanctions against Artek and its director, Konstantin Fedorenko, for receiving Ukrainian children who are subsequently placed in extensive “patriotic” re-education programs and are prevented from returning to their families. (Artek's press center)
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Russia forcibly sent at least 8,330 Ukrainian children to the so-called "re-education camps" this year for the purposes of political indoctrination and militarization, Ukrinform reported on Oct. 30, citing human rights expert Kateryna Rashevska.

These facilities, posing as "rehabilitation institutions," are part of Moscow's strategy to eradicate the Ukrainian identity and turn Ukrainian children against their own homeland, the legal expert of the NGO Regional Center for Human Rights said at a round table discussion hosted by Ukrinform.

There are at least 46 such facilities on Russian territory, seven in occupied Crimea, and eight in Belarus, Rashevska said. Some children are also placed in military camps, where they "carry weapons, learn to shoot, and salute to Russian commanders – usually Don Cossacks, who receive money for this," Rashevska said.

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Another project called "Cultural Map 4+85," co-developed by the Russian Defense Ministry, the presidential office, and the Education Ministry, among others, reportedly aims to forcibly integrate Ukrainian children from occupied territories and "turn them into citizens of the Russian Federation."

Attempts at re-educating and indoctrinating Ukrainian children have a "clear genocidal character," Rashevska said, and will likely carry an impact on Ukraine in the future.

The expert emphasized that these efforts are clear violations of children's right to education and to preserve their identity. The militarization projects also have characteristics of another international crime – forced service in the armed forces of an opposing state, Rashevska noted.

At least 19,500 children have been confirmed as abducted by Russia since the start of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, according to the Children of War database. Only 386 of them have been safely returned home.

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