Ukrainian official rips Russia for ‘kidnapping’ more than 13,000 children
A Ukrainian official slammed Russia for “kidnapping” more than 13,000 Ukrainian children amid its invasion of the country “under the guise of an alleged evacuation,” during a hearing held by the U.S. Helsinki Commission on Wednesday.
Nikolay Kuleba, the commissioner for children’s rights in the Ukrainian president’s office and co-founder of the Alliance for Ukraine Without Orphans, said Russia has deported 13,124 children during the war, citing a government portal.
He also noted that Russian state media had reported a “horrifying number of 712,000 deported Ukranian children.”
“The occupiers are kidnapping Ukrainian children to the Russian Federation,” he told lawmakers, accusing Russia of facilitating the deportations by simplifying their adoption process and bribing Russian citizens to adopt displaced Ukrainian children.
“To encourage ordinary Russian to adopt forcibly removed children they offer a one-time payment of maternity capital and state aide,” Kuleba said, adding adoptive parents were paid $300 per year for each child, and about $2,000 a year for children with disabilities.
He also noted the Ukrainian children were not being deported into border territories but to areas of Russia further away from the border.
“The Russian authorities made a conscious decision to resettle deported children into the territories thousands of kilometers away from Ukraine,” he said.
Kuleba also claimed that Russian adopters were allowed to change an adopted Ukrainian child’s name and date of birth.
“This means that it will be very difficult for us to personally find and identify our children in the future,” he said.
Kuleba said that there were several reasons Russia was stealing Ukrainian children, including making up for the demographic losses caused by Russian casualties in the invasion. He also said the Kremlin was pushing propaganda that Russians are saving the children from Ukrainian Nazis.
James Gordon, founder of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, told the commission that roughly 60 percent of Ukrainian children had been displaced from their homes since the conflict with Russia began, and that these children were highly distressed.
“Every child in Ukraine and all Ukrainian children who have left, are experiencing some level of distress,” Gordon said.
In addition to kidnapping, Kuleba said he had recently received reports from the Ukrainian Parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights that Russians were torturing Ukranian children, “and have even set up separate torture chambers for this.”
The Hill reached out to the Russian Embassy for a response to Kuleba’s claims.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.