12:54 15 Feb 2023

russia has abducted at least 6,000 Ukrainian children to "political re-education" camps

russia has an extensive network of camps where thousands of Ukrainian children have been held since the beginning of the full-scale war. Probably, the main task of such institutions is "political re-education," says the report of the Conflict Observatory of the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab.

The report says that the researchers collected information on at least 6,000 children from Ukraine aged four months to 17 years, noting that after February 24, 2022, they were or are being held in russian camps and other institutions, Hromadske reports.

The first sending of children to such institutions was recorded in February 2022. The last ones are in January 2023. The actual total number of dependent children is unknown — probably more than 6,000.

The report identified 43 institutions where children were or are being held, of which 41 are summer camps in russia and occupied Crimea:

  • Seven centers were discovered on the captured peninsula,
  • Ten centers each around moscow, Kazan, and Yekaterinburg.
  • Another 11 camps were found 800 km from the border of Ukraine with russia, in particular in Siberia.

The most remote camp is located in the Magadan region in the Far East of russia, near the Pacific Ocean, more than 6,000 km from the Ukrainian border. The report emphasizes that this institution is three times closer to the United States than Ukraine.

The exact number of facilities also appears to exceed 43. In addition, researchers have identified two facilities that have been linked to the deportation of orphans:

  • psychiatric hospital,
  • family center

In addition, children from at least two camps were illegally adopted in russia. It was found from open sources that 20 children from these camps found themselves in families in the moscow region and were enrolled in local schools.

Researchers assume that the primary goal of the camps is the "political re-education" of children. At least 32 facilities (78% of those identified by the researchers) found attempts at re-education.

In particular, children from Ukraine are subjected to "russia-centric academic, cultural, patriotic, and/or military education."

"Multiple camps endorsed by the russian federation are advertised as 'integration programs,' with the apparent goal of integrating children from Ukraine into the russian government's vision of national culture, history, and society," the report emphasizes.

According to researchers, the network of camps is centrally coordinated by the russian federal government. Experts identified several dozen federal, regional, and local officials directly involved in the work. At least 12 officials coordinating the facilities are not subject to US or international sanctions.

How could children get to the camps?

The report says that some of the children are taken to the camps after the consent of their parents. However, the researchers point out that in many cases, there is doubt as to whether parents can give informed consent because, in times of war, the threat of invaders is coercive.

In some cases, parents were required to sign a power of attorney to an unnamed agent, according to the report. Parents also reported a violation of the terms of the agreement. In particular, children were not returned to their relatives within the specified time.

Another part of the parents stated that they refused to let their children go to the camps, but their words were ignored, and the children were enrolled in institutions.

In addition, researchers found that at least four camps have stopped returning children. According to the parents, in the Artek and Vedmedyk camps, the return of children has been suspended indefinitely.

"Vedmedyk" is one of the largest identified camps, which housed at least 300 children from Ukraine. Officials there initially told parents the children would return at the end of the summer but later canceled the return date.

Hundreds of children from Ukraine from at least two other camps have been or remain there beyond the scheduled return date.

The researchers could not determine how many children were eventually reunited with their parents. There were also reports from relatives that they could not obtain information on the status or whereabouts of the children after their return was suspended.

As Rubryka reported, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies have determined the abduction of 16,207 children to russia. According to data from open sources, voiced by russia, the number of deported children may reach more than 700,000. At this time, 307 children were returned to Ukraine.


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