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NGO: Ukrainian teenager illegally deported by Russia returns home

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 2, 2024 4:43 PM 1 min read
The teenage boy from Kherson, Ukraine, illegally deported to Russia hugs his relative after returning to Ukraine. (Mykola Kuleba/Telegram)
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A 17-year-old boy previously illegally deported to Russia from then-occupied Kherson returned to his family in Ukraine, Save Ukraine, a Ukrainian humanitarian NGO that arranged the return, reported on April 2.

At least 19,500 children have been confirmed as abducted by Russia since the start of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and less than 400 of them have returned home, according to the Ukrainian government’s database.

Kherson, a native city of Mykyta, the rescued teenager, was occupied by Russian troops from February to November 2022.

"For two years, he was forced to live in an enemy country, in a foreign city, to study in a Russian school," Save Ukraine head Mykola Kuleba said on Telegram.

Mykyta, like other Ukrainian children deported to Russia, was subjected to the so-called "patriotic education" in the Russian school, which included propaganda lessons about war and military training, according to Kuleba.

"What scared the boy the most was that at the age of 18, after the so-called Yunarmia (Young Army), the Russians would force him to fight against his Motherland."

Ukrainian children who have been forcibly deported to Russia are subject to systemic re-education efforts by Russian authorities, according to a report published in the Guardian on Feb. 4.

In March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for allegedly overseeing the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia.

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