By Marcel Gascon
Kyiv, Mar 29 (EFE).- Ukrainian authorities claim to have documented nearly 20,000 cases of children who have been separated from their families or forcefully deported to the Russian Federation from territories occupied by Moscow’s invading forces.
Kyiv said that some of these children have since been adopted by Russian families.
“To take orphans out of Ukraine and give them up for adoption to Russian citizens is illegal and vile,” Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said on her Telegram channel on Tuesday night.
“It is especially repugnant when people also publicly brag about the fact that they have adopted children stolen in Ukraine.”
The official, who wrote in Russian and addressed those responsible directly, warned the “adoptive parents” and “guardians” that “sooner or later you will have to answer. Just like the Russian officials involved — big and small.”
“Your identity is no big secret, neither for Ukrainian nor for international law enforcement,” Vereshchuk, also the minister for the recovery of occupied territory in Ukraine, added.
The deputy PM went on to name Moscow residents who have allegedly volunteered to adopt Ukrainian children.
“We are talking about many dozens of Russian citizens who for some reason decided that they were allowed to adopt orphans stolen from Ukraine,” Vereshchuk said.
Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly denounced the forcible transfer of children in occupied territories to Russia since Moscow began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
Kyiv says there were around 4,390 Ukrainian children who were in state care and now live in Russian-controlled territories or in the Russian Federation.
Moscow has allegedly assumed legal guardianship of these children and deported Ukrainian minors living in orphanages to various cities and towns across the vast country.
According to government data, Ukraine has secured the return of some 327 children from Russia.
Local media have been reporting that the minors who have returned to Ukraine say that they were indoctrinated with Russian propaganda and forced to deny their families and their status as Ukrainians while in Russian custody.
Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court issued two international arrest warrants for Russian president Vladimir Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, over the unlawful transfer of Ukrainian children to Russia.
Lvova-Belova gives regular reports on the adoption of Ukrainian minors from occupied territories.
The Russian official even adopted a minor from Mariupol after the industrial city was devastated and occupied by Russian forces last spring.EFE