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Media: Ukrainian children showcased at Moscow event lost their mother to Russian shelling in Mariupol
Two abducted Ukrainian children showcased at Russian President Vladimir Putin's propaganda concert in Moscow on Feb. 22 had lost their mother to Russian shelling in Mariupol earlier in the war, independent Russian media outlet Important Stories reported.
The two siblings who lost their mother included 15-year-old Anna Naumenko, who was made to thank Russian fighter Yuriy Gagarin for "saving" them from Mariupol. Gagarin was introduced as having "saved" 367 children from Mariupol, which was almost completely destroyed by Russian bombardment in the first half of 2022. The two sisters who appeared on stage also have a brother, according to the Important Stories.
The media outlet reported that the Ukrainian family had been first hiding from Russian shelling in a Mariupol cultural center, and then in an administrative builidng. The mother, Olga, was killed in April. According to a relative of Olga's husband, interviewed by the Important Stories, Anna was assigned a caretaker, while her sister Karolina remains with their father, and her brother, Danylo, is with his grandmother.
The Ukrainian governmental website Children of War estimates that 16,000 Ukrainian children have been abducted to Russia since the beginning of the full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.