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US sanctions officials, organizations complicit in Russia's deportation of Ukrainian children

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 24, 2023 9:49 PM 2 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. (Photo: Artek's press center)
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The U.S. State Department imposed sanctions against individuals and entities linked to Russia's forcible transfer and deportation of Ukrainian children on Aug. 24.

The targets are Russian officials and members of Moscow-installed illegal administrations in occupied parts of Ukraine who reportedly took part in forcibly transferring Ukrainian children to Russia or within occupied territories.

"Children are the most innocent victims of war: we have not forgotten Ukraine's children," the U.S. State Department wrote in a press release.

The sanctioned individuals include commissioners for children's rights in Russia's Belgorod, Kaluga, and Rostov regions, as well as the Chechen Republic's commissioner for human rights and the government's chairman.

They are said to be involved in facilitating the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia and their adoption by Russian families.

Other Chechen representatives targeted by the sanctions package are the Akhmat Kadyrov Foundation, its board member and the Chechen leader's mother, Aymani Kadyrova, and a special police battalion commander in the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, all of which are involved in the "re-education" of Ukrainian children in camps outside of Grozny.

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…

In Crimea, the U.S. sanctioned the Russian government-owned "summer camp" Artek, its director Konstantin Fedorenko, the Chief of Staff of the Sevastopol Branch of Russia's Youth Army Vladimir Kovalenko and Russia-appointed head of Sevastopol State University Vladimir Nechaev.

Artek has received Ukrainian children placed in "patriotic" re-education programs and prevented from returning to their families, while Kovalenko has organized Russian military and patriotic camps for Ukrainian children in Crimea, in which Nechaev has been involved too.

Washington also targeted Olena Shapurova, Moscow-appointed official responsible for education in occupied parts of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Oblast, for implementing pro-Russia educational curriculums in local schools and "threatening to remove children from Ukrainian families if they do not attend pro-Russia schools."

Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova claimed on July 31 that 700,000 Ukrainian children had been brought to Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion, in a mass deportation of Ukrainian children.

She said about 4.8 million Ukrainians have been "accepted" into Russia and claimed most children arrived with relatives. The numbers include 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. Three hundred eighty-six of them have been brought back to Ukraine.

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