Bohdan Yermokhin, Mariupol teenager kidnapped and drafted by Russian forces, returns to Ukraine

On Sunday, November 19, Bohdan Yermokhin, a young man from Mariupol who was kidnapped by the invaders and served a draft notice to the Russian army, returned to Ukraine on his 18th birthday.

This was reported by the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets.

"It was a thorny path. Bohdan went through a lot while in Russia, but despite everything he wanted to be home! Today his wish has come true. I am sure that Bohdan will never forget his 18th birthday!" the statement reads.

Photo: Dmytro Lubinets / Telegram

It is noted that his return took place in cooperation with the State of Qatar, UNICEF, and the Embassy of Ukraine in Belarus following negotiations with the Russian side.

"I would like to thank Orphans Feeding Foundation, in particular co-founder Mariam Lambert, for the logistical support of our office. I also express my gratitude to the administration of the State Border Guard Service for their assistance in our work," Lubinets wrote.

Photo: Dmytro Lubinets / Telegram

He added that in order to reunite the teenager with his sister, he had communicated with the Russian Ombudsman.

Earlier, Petro Andriushchenko, advisor to the Mariupol mayor reported the information, citing the words of Yermokhin himself and his lawyer, Kateryna Bobrovska.

"Ukrainian teenager Bohdan Yermokhin, whom the Russian authorities promised to return to his homeland, has left Russia," the statement reads.

According to Andriushchenko, the teenager flew to Belarus and is now staying there with his sister, who is Bohdan's legal custodian, according to Bobrovska.

Photo: Petro Andriushchenko / Telegram

Bohdan Yermokhin's story

Russia is kidnapping Ukrainian children from the temporarily occupied territories through the humanitarian mission Children in Hands founded by Russian Children's Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova.

During the occupation of Mariupol, the Russians illegally took 30 children to Moscow, including 17-year-old Bohdan Yermokhin. From there, they were sent to a children's sanatorium called Poliana.

In July 2022, despite having a legal guardian, the teenager was illegally transferred to a Russian family. According to Bohdan, he was issued a Russian passport and enrolled in a school.

In April 2023, the boy tried to return to Ukraine but was detained at the border with Belarus and forcibly returned to his foster family.

Later it became known that Russian terrorists had conscripted the minor from Mariupol into the army. The boy recorded a video message to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He asked for help to return him to Ukraine. 

"I, Bohdan Yermokhin, am on the territory of Russia and I ask you, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych, to help me return home," the abducted 17-year-old said.

Bobrovska's lawyer asked the president for personal control over the child's return to Ukraine.

On November 10, Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets said that Ukraine had agreed to return Bohdan Yermokhin, a minor from Mariupol, from Russia.