Russia abducted 46 Ukrainian children from kindergarten in Khersom during occupation
Publication date

Russia abducted 46 Ukrainian children from kindergarten in Khersom during occupation

Source:  The New York Times

A network of officials and politicians associated with the party of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin conducted a campaign to abduct Ukrainian children from Kherson.

How Russia abducted Ukrainian children from Kherson

After a full-scale invasion, orphanage workers hid the children in the basement of the church. Still, on April 25, 2022, Russian officials found the children and transported them nearly 300 km from the home, all the while filming the children for their propaganda videos.

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Babies and children under the age of five stayed in the Children's Home, some of them had serious disabilities, for example, cerebral palsy. The children were not orphans, some of their parents had limited parental rights; some of the children were removed from dysfunctional families or abandoned, the material states.

Children after being returned to the Children's Home in April 2022 (photo -

The pro-Russian occupation authorities in Kherson demanded from the educators that the children be moved back to the Children's Home. The management of the institution still agreed.

As one of the educators said, in the following months, armed men in Russian military uniforms often visited the Children's Home without warning to monitor the children and educators.

As noted in the publication, in their interviews for The Times, Russian officials repeated the same opinion and declared that the children from Kherson are Russian.

In May 2022, Putin signed a document that simplified the acquisition of Russian citizenship, which means that Russians can more easily adopt Ukrainian children kidnapped by Russia.

Tetyana Zavalska, one of the pediatricians of the institution, who did not hide her pro-Russian views, became the new head of the institution. In the month of her appointment, the Children's Home was registered in the Russian system.

Tatyana Zavalska together with Russian MP Yana Lantratova during her visit to the Children's Home (photo —

Later, the employees of the institution were informed that the children were being taken away. Volunteer students from medical universities in Crimea were specially recruited for this purpose in closed Telegram chats.

Message sent to medical students in Crimea on October 20, 2022 (photo —

The children were transported to Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, and divided between two children's institutions. Employees of one of them, "Yolochka", were previously accused of improper care of children.

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In the end, the children received Russian citizenship, which is a necessary condition for adoption and placement in Russian families. Legal experts claim that the issuing of new documents, the translation of the children's names, and the change of their citizenship indicate the intention of the Russian authorities to deprive the children of their identity, which is a violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It could also constitute a war crime.

Subsequently, photographs of Kherson children began to appear in the Russian federal data bank of orphans among tens of thousands of Russian children. In their questionnaires, of which there were 22, it is stated that they are from Crimea, and the place of birth - Ukraine - is not mentioned.

An announcement on the search for foster families for children from the Children's House was published in Telegram on September 27, 2023 (photo - photo -

The publication notes that at least two of the children were placed in Russian families, as reported by the Children's Service in Crimea.

At least seven children from the Kherson Children's House returned to Ukraine with the assistance of the Ukrainian authorities and mediators from Qatar. Among them are Anastasia and Mykola Volodina, whose mother went to Moscow for them in February of this year.

Anastasia later died in a Ukrainian hospital, just weeks after she turned six. The doctor called the cause of her death an epileptic seizure. Mykola is under the care of the Ukrainian state while his parents await a court decision regarding their parental rights.

The rest of the Kherson children remain under Russian rule.

What is known about Russia's abduction of children from the occupied territories of Ukraine

In 2023, the Online.UA team presented the documentary "Abducted Childhood", which reveals the truth about Russia's abduction of Ukrainian children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

The heroes of the documentary went through Russian captivity, torture, abduction to a health camp, some were separated from their parents during the so-called filtering measures.

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