Espreso. Global

Pro-Soviet narratives imposed on deported Ukrainian children in camps in Belarus - Skhemy

23 February, 2024 Friday

Ukrainian children who were deported from the temporarily occupied territories are being taught pro-Soviet narratives in children's camps in Belarus and their national identity is being eradicated

This is stated in the investigation of the Skhemy project.

The Russian installed authorities in the temporarily occupied territories organized so-called recreation for children in summer camps in Belarus, where they promoted ideas that "meet the political interests of Russia and Belarus."

"For example, at a concert in the Dubrava camp for children from Donbas, Belarusian propaganda singers, the Gruzdev Sisters, said the following on stage: 'May Biden die, God, forgive me, may Zelenskyy also die, and may Putin prosper. And for him to take control of the whole of Ukraine,'" the statement reads.

Aaccording to the Yale School of Public Health's Laboratory for Humanitarian Studies, at least 2,442 children were taken from Ukraine to Belarus between the beginning of the full-scale invasion and October 2023. Most of them are from Mariupol and Lysychansk. 

In the camps, children are organized on excursions to the main symbols of pro-Soviet propaganda: "Children from Donetsk and Luhansk regions, for example, were taken to the Brest Fortress. Another element of leisure is meetings with Belarusian security forces. Military Soviet and pro-Russian themes of events, meetings with Belarusian police and the Belarusian military have become simply integral attributes of the so-called recreation of children in summer camps in Belarus, where children from Ukraine also get there one way or another."

"The younger the children are, the easier it is to 'rewire' this genetic memory. It is easier to say that 'you are not Ukrainians, you are Russians', 'you are not Ukrainians, you are Belarusians'. And children do not remember much because not much time has passed," says psychologist Olha Velychko.

Deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia: what is known

In the context of a full-scale invasion, Russia is deporting Ukrainian children en masse from the occupied territories of Ukraine. They are taken to the occupied Crimea, Russia or Belarus, allegedly for rehabilitation or to rest in camps.

On May 13, 2023, at a briefing in Rome with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that he knew of more than 19,300 children deported by the Russians. On May 29, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets spoke at an informal meeting of the UN Security Council on the issue of Russia's abduction of children from the occupied territories of Ukraine. The Ombudsman said that Russia deliberately changes legislation to make it impossible for Ukrainian children to return home and uses, among other things, the forced change of their citizenship to Russian.

Lubinets also noted that Russia does not provide any data on Ukrainian deported children - it is not even known where they are and in what conditions. He also said that Russians use child labour and militarize Ukrainian children in the temporarily occupied territories.

On June 8, a US Senate committee supported a draft resolution condemning the abduction of Ukrainian children by Russia and calling such actions genocide. Later, evidence emerged of Belarus' involvement in the deportation of Ukrainian children. On June 27, the Belarusian opposition submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court of the involvement of self-proclaimed head of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and his entourage in war crimes.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on UN countries to join efforts and force Russia to return to Ukrainian parents their children taken against their will to Russia during the war in Ukraine.

On July 29, British Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons said that Russians were abducting Ukrainian children to exterminate the next generation of Ukraine's defenders. At the same time, Russian Ombudsman for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova said that since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Russia has "hosted" about 4.8 million Ukrainians, including more than 700,000 children.

On November 23, the BBC wrote that the leader of the Just Russia political party, 70-year-old Sergei Mironov, adopted a 10-month-old girl abducted from the Kherson regional orphanage.

On December 7, 2023, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukrainian parliament, Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets said that the deportation of 19,540 Ukrainian children by Russia has been officially confirmed.

On January 25, PACE called on EU parliaments to recognize the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia as a war crime.

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