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Ombudsman confirms first case of Russian citizen changing identity of illegally adopted Ukrainian child

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 30, 2023 9:15 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman), Dmytro Lubinets attends an international conference of human rights commissioners in Ankara, Turkey, on Jan. 12, 2023. (Muhammed Abdullah Kurtar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets confirmed media reports revealing that a Russian lawmaker's family had illegally adopted a Ukrainian child abducted from a children's home in Kherson and changed her identity.

The guardian of the child's sister reportedly reached out to Lubinets, asking him to locate the abducted girl, as she wants to get custody over her as well.

Originally named Marharyta Prokopenko, the child was one of 48 children who went missing from Kherson Regional Children's Home when Russian forces took control of the city, according to a BBC investigation published on Nov. 23.

As the investigation revealed, Marharyta was taken from then-occupied Kherson to Russia by Inna Varlamova, the wife of Sergey Mironov, leader of the Just Russia Party and a staunch ally of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Later, Varlamova and Mironov adopted Marharyta, who received Russian citizenship and was renamed Marina Mironova, the BBC wrote. Her birthplace was purportedly shown in the records as Russian Podolsk instead of Ukraine's Kherson.

According to Lubinets, this is the first recorded case of a changed identity of a Ukrainian child illegally adopted by a Russian citizen.

The Russian media outlet Important Stories, which also did an investigation into Marharyta's story, called it "the first documented case of adoption of a Ukrainian child by a Russian politician of this rank."

Explainer: What we know about Russia’s deportation of Ukrainian children
In March, the International Criminal Court made a historic ruling: It issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official overseeing the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia. The statement by ICC says that Putin is “allegedly respo…

Marharyta has a six-year-old sister living with that guardian, who contacted the official, and a three-year-old brother, whose whereabouts are unknown, Lubinets added. According to the BBC, Marharyta's brother was also abducted from the Kherson children's home by Russian officials.

"Adoption of Ukrainian children in the Russian Federation is illegal. According to international and national law, in order for foreigners to adopt a Ukrainian child, it is necessary to notify Ukraine and obtain consent to the adoption," Lubinets wrote.

"However, Russia tries to circumvent this and forcibly grants Russian citizenship to Ukrainian children, which is also a crime! Forced transfer of children from one ethnic group to another is genocide!"

The allegations against Mironov fall in line with accusations that Russian lawmakers have played a pivotal role in the forced removal of thousands of children from Ukraine.

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 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.

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