Ukrainian children stolen by Russia: how many have been taken, who is behind it, whereabouts of children

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, thousands of civilians have died from the aggressive actions of the Russian military. According to various sources, from 20 to 87 thousand people died in Mariupol alone, and these are not the final figures. Let's add to the number of dead civilians, the families whose husbands were forcibly mobilized into the ranks of terrorist groups of the so-called "lpr" and "dpr". And we will get the following: tens of thousands of families left without social protection and at risk of human rights violations by the Russian Federation. 

Separately about children: if a child has at least one guardian, one of the living parents or relatives, then there are chances to survive the Russian occupation and stay in Ukraine. But, unfortunately, orphans and children who have been left without guardianship for a long time in the temporarily occupied territories (TOT) are in great danger.

Molfar OSINT community conducted an investigation into the forced deportation of children from Ukraine, we managed to find out the next points.

  1. Russian officials, with the help of the armed groups of "dpr" and "lpr" organized the removal of Ukrainian children from the TOT to the Russian Federation. 
  2. Forced deportation of children is carried out by the company «Into the hands of children», which is headed by Maria Lvova-Belova – the Commissioner for Children's Rights under the President of Russia. 
  3. The headquarters of «Into the hands of children» coordinates its work in the TOT directly with the Russian command – for this purpose Maria Lvova-Belova personally visits the TOT, where she also meets with the leaders of the terrorist groups "dpr" and "lpr".
  4. According to Lvova-Belova, the approximate number of taken children is 2000 people, the kidnapped children are in one of the seven locations in the territory of the Russian Federation, which we identified according to the reports of «Into the hands of children». 

What is going on?

Forced deportation of people is an international crime. We are talking about children, these are vulnerable groups of people who are physically and legally unable to influence the situation. The Russian leadership kidnaps children, masking it as charity, humanitarian initiative and rescue of the disadvantaged. These actions give Russia opportunities to manipulate its status as a UN member state, peacekeeper and "savior country" – and throws dust in the eyes of international organizations. 

  • Officially, the Russian Ministry of Defense states about more than 300 thousand children who were forcibly deported from the TOT. The same estimate is given by other Russian sources. 
  • Ukrainian human rights activists confirm the information about 300 thousand, and emphasize that the number of deported children may be higher, up to 700 thousand, although at the official level only 13 thousand deported children have been identified by name. Children are deported to 57 regions of Russia, including Sakhalin.
  • The estimate of 300-700 thousand is also confirmed by Western sources, in particular The Washington Post wrote about 500 thousand deported Ukrainians in early May.
  • According to the head of the headquarters of «Into the hands of children» Maria Lvova-Belova, 2000 children were forcibly deported from TOT to Russian Federation from the beginning of the full-scale war in Ukraine. Although her words do not coincide with the official reports of the headquarters itself, which indicates a deliberate concealment of deportation facts. 

The Molfar OSINT community emphasizes the need to punish those involved in the kidnapping of children, return the deported children to the territory of Ukraine and further investigate this case at the international level. 

«Into the hands of children»: how is the organization for deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia organized?

The organization «Into the hands of children» operates within the framework of the organization "Russian Humanitarian Mission", and uses their bank account to receive donations, has two hubs in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don. According to legal data, "Russian Humanitarian Mission" is a non-profit organization engaged in charity.

The chronology of the company's origin: in the news of 06.04.22 the first mention of the headquarters «Into the hands of children» appears, then on 14.07.22 the news about the opening of the headquarters «Into the hands of children» in the "dpr" appears and in December 2022, it is reported about the opening of the headquarters «Into the hands of children» in the temporarily occupied territory of Zaporizhzhia region.

Maria Lvova-Belova, the Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights in Russian Federation, started the mission «Into the hands of children». We also know about 14 people who are connected to the headquarters of «Into the hands of children».

Maria Lvova-Belova and 14 people connected to the headquarters of «Into the hands of children»

Most of these people are citizens of the Russian Federation, connected to the governmental structures. For example, Alexey Petrov is an adviser to the Office of the Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights, coordinator of the Russian Humanitarian Mission. He has a Skype address with the nickname wotan_jugend**** – it’s a mention of the Russian neo-Nazi organization Wotanjugend, which proclaims the fascist philosophy and ideas of the Reich along with racial segregation. Nina Ostanina, who is the chairwoman of the Committee on Family, Women and Children of the Russian Federation, works in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, where she lobbies for the initiatives of orphans from TOT to be placed in Russian families. Also interesting is the involvement of Andrey Vorobyov, the governor of the Moscow region, who solemnly handed the citizenship of the Russian Federation to children deported from TOT by Lvova-Belova. And Vyacheslav Dukhin, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Moscow region, who, together with Lvova-Belova, participated in the discussion with the leaders of the "lpr" about adoption of orphans from the TOT in Russian families.

In addition to Russian civil servants, private entrepreneurs and heads of Russian non-profit organizations are also connected to the organization «Into the hands of children». It’s also needed to mention the participation of the representatives of the so-called "dpr". Fedorenko (Shchetnikova) Eleonora Mikhailovna, the children's ombudsman in the "dpr", and Tolstykina Larisa Valentinovna, the minister of labor and social policy of the "dpr". They both attended the meeting of «Into the hands of children» and "dpr" leaders in August 2022. 

Maria Lvova-Belova, Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights in Russian Federation
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova
Meeting of «Into the hands of children» headquarters and "dpr" leaders in August 2022
Representatives of the headquarters «Into the hands of children» at the meeting with the leaders of the "dpr"
"dpr" leaders at the meeting with representatives of «Into the hands of children» headquarters 

The scheme of interaction between the foundation and the militants is as follows: first, the "dpr" military forces find children. These can be orphans who became orphans as a result of Russia's aggressive war against Ukraine. Or children whose parents, according to the decree of the occupation authorities, were deprived of parental rights. After that, the militants transfer the children to the headquarters of «Into the hands of children», which deals with the deportation and further fate of children.  

In practice, the scheme is somewhat more complicated and requires the participation of a certain number of intermediate partner organizations.

Organizations connected to the headquarters of «Into the hands of children» 

It is worth noting that according to the report "Forced deportation of children to Russia", prepared by the Eastern Human Rights Group and the Institute for Strategic Studies, Russian parents – candidates for adoption must undergo special training, where they, in particular, are explained the nuances of ideological education of Ukrainian children. The mentioned ideological "reprogramming of children", as well as forced passportization and forced change of the child's name, patronymic and surname by Russian adoptive parents violate the articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. These are Articles 8 and 21, which establish the obligation of states to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name, family ties, without unlawful interference.

The Eastern Human Rights Group and the Institute for Strategic Studies call the measures of forced deportation of children from the TOT to the Russian Federation as genocide of the Ukrainian people.  

How many children were deported by the headquarters of «Into the hands of children» and where are they?

From April to October 2022, according to the headquarters' reports, 568 children were known to have been deported, but according to Lvova-Belova, there were more deported children – approximately 2000.

Since we are dealing with an organization from the Russian Federation, it should be assumed that most of the deportations were carried out non-publicly, and no documents on such removals have ever existed and will never exist. 

Let us recall the number of people who died in the first months of the full-scale invasion. These are tens of thousands of families. And accordingly, tens of thousands of potentially deported children. Let's remember about 300-700 thousand children who were taken out of Ukraine according to estimates of both sides. And let's assume that with such coordination of work and with such involvement of human resources, the headquarters of «Into the hands of children» probably contributed to the deportation of a much larger number of children than it is stated in the reports and recorded according to Lvova-Belova.

Temporary locations of kidnapped children on the territory of the Russian Federation (marked in red)

According to the reports of the headquarters, there are 7 places of temporary stay of the children in the territory of the Russian Federation:

  1. Camp "Raketa", Voronezh region.
  2. Sanatorium "Polyany", Moscow Region.
  3. Camp "Orlovchanka", Orlov region.
  4. DOC "Morskaya Zvezda", Krasnodar Krai.
  5. Camp "Mountain Stream", Chechen Republic.
  6. Camp "Lytvynovo", Moscow Region.
  7. Clinic Roshal and the Russian Children's Clinical Hospital, Moscow.

In the context of temporary locations of kidnapped children, we are only aware of official places where children were taken for "rehabilitation, treatment or rest". There is no information about the specific families to which the children were placed for adoption. 

Conclusions: Russians continue genocide of the Ukrainian nation

With this investigation, the Molfar OSINT community wants to help bring the perpetrators to justice as soon as possible. It is our strong desire that the crimes of child abduction are brought to the attention of international organizations and investigated in detail using all available sources. 

We have evidence that this is not a chaotic humanitarian activity. This is a consistent policy of resettlement of Ukrainian children to Russian territories: with the use of force and changes in legislation. 

If you have the opportunity to influence this situation, please use your resources and do so. For our part, we will also actively promote the investigation in the public space. Crimes of such scale should not go unpunished. As long as the Russian leadership at the state level plans and implements genocide, not only orphans are in danger. The threat hangs over the current and future generations. The threat is very close. 

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#the so called dpr and lpr
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