The Kyiv Independent’s investigative documentary "Uprooted" on Russia’s abduction of Ukrainian children has won the National Investigative Journalism Competition 2023.
This is the first award of the Kyiv Independent’s War Crimes Investigations Unit, which has produced three investigations since its launch in April.
The "Uprooted" investigation, authored by journalist Olesia Bida, uncovers the inner workings of the forced deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia and the occupied territories of Ukraine.
"Do I believe it is happening to me? Of course not! I still lack words to express everything I feel," Bida wrote on Facebook. "I believe that this is just the beginning for our War Crimes Investigations Unit, and especially for bringing war criminals to justice."
The National Investigative Journalism Competition was established in 2014 by the Media Development Foundation and YanukovychLeaks, a Ukrainian initiative that has studied and published documents left by ex-president Viktor Yanukovych who fled to Russia after the EuroMaidan Revolution in 2014.
“Congratulations to the winners and finalists of the competition! Your work now helps identify war criminals, monitor integrity in the rear, and keep society focused on rooting out corruption,” Ukraine’s Media Development Foundation, one of the award’s founders, said on Facebook.
While working on "Uprooted," the Kyiv Independent’s War Crimes Unit identified Russian-controlled officials who took part in the abduction of Ukrainian children and followed the paths of families who risked their lives to bring their children back.
In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official allegedly overseeing the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia.
The unlawful transfer or deportation of civilians to Russia violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and constitutes a war crime under international law.
Earlier this year, Lvova-Belova claimed that 700,000 Ukrainian children had been brought to Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion, including 1,500 children who lived in orphanages or state institutions.
More than 19,500 children have been identified by the Ukrainian government as having been deported and/or forcibly displaced by Russia. Almost 400 of them have been brought back to Ukraine.