The Vazhnye Istorii website has accurately reconstructed the data of 1,184 children who arrived in Russia “from the territory of Donbass, without legal representatives.” In many regions, minors from the occupied and “annexed” territories are now considered Russian citizens and are no longer listed in any register. However, several regional archives show increases in foster care, adoption and guardianship without any apparent explanation.
Moscow () – According to research carried out by the website Vazhnye Istorii – “Important Stories” – the data of more than a thousand children undergoing “preventive care” in Russia can be confirmed with certainty. In any case, the figure is three times higher than the one publicly admitted by the Russian authorities, although it is not the totality of the almost 20,000 who would have been deported according to Ukrainian sources. Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria L’vova-Belova, who a few days ago met with Cardinal Zuppi, Pope Francis’ envoy, personally brought a large group of orphaned children from the occupied Donetsk region to the region. from Nizhny Novgorod, to accommodate them with local families (in the photo).
At the end of 2022, Belova declared that she had placed 380 children in families, and to date she has continued to repeat the same figure. From the records of the activities of the Rostov regional government, according to the investigations, it turns out, on the other hand, that there are 1,184 children who arrived “from the territory of Donbass and Ukraine, without legal representatives.” This formula does not make it entirely clear the status attributed to these children, who may be orphans who lived in special centers or who lost their parents during the fighting.
Nor is it possible to verify how many actually remained in the guardianship families or for how long; according to Russian law, the “temporary guardian” is used for a period ranging from six to eight months, during which he can make the decision to adopt them or that they be transferred to another destination, which can be state orphanages or private institutions like those of the Orthodox Church. In Moscow there was a Catholic accommodation for children run by the religious of the Don Calabria Society, but they were forced to leave the country years ago.
Some of the Ukrainian children may have been deported along with other relatives, grandmothers or aunts, while the parents remained in the occupied territories. In many cases, students from kindergartens or primary schools were simply taken to Russia to “allow them to continue the educational process”, and were entrusted to educational institutions without bothering to prepare the corresponding documents. Regional records are not always accessible or complete, and the moves have often been disguised under other headings of children’s activities. The Rostov Ministry of Education refused to speak to reporters.
However, the Vazhnye Istorii investigation reconstructed the itinerary of many of the deported children, who were distributed in 23 regions, from Moscow and its surroundings to Nizhny Novgorod, the third Russian city by population, Leningrad-Saint Petersburg and others in northern Russia. European Russia, like Kostroma or Novgorod Veliky. Here the children would have already been permanently entrusted to the families that have welcomed them and only sporadically stories related to them appear in the official media, such as that of a woman from Voronezh who welcomed six children from Donbass into her home and another from the same city that took care of a girl with AIDS.
L’vova-Belova herself has stated her agency’s intention to accommodate close to a thousand minors from Donbass, adding them to the 380 that she has been repeating for a year, and from the data collected so far it can be assumed that these figures should be multiplied by least for three or more. Especially since children from the four occupied and “annexed” regions are now considered Russian citizens, and are no longer included in any transfer register. However, several regional archives show seemingly unexplained increases in foster care, adoption and guardianship.
The Ombudsman for Children reported that until last March only 16 children were returned to their parents, and international institutions, first of all the Holy See, are trying to work precisely on this aspect, doing everything possible to rebuild family ties .