Ukrainian children who were held in Russian camps, with the help of The Insider, identified the person who used violence against them. It turned out to be a former Berkut employee, who participated in the events on the Maidan on the part of the security forces of Viktor Yanukovych, Valery Astakhov. His data is in the Peacemaker database . According to these data, Astakhov served in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, but after the annexation of Crimea, he accepted the citizenship of the Russian Federation and went to serve in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation in Evpatoria.
The Insider correspondent Tatyana Popova showed photos of Astakhov to Ukrainian children taken out of Russia, they identified him.
It is known that in 2014 Astakhov had already taken children from Slavyansk in the Donetsk region to the Rostov region. This was written by Kommersant. Then 38 people were taken out, including 21 children aged from 2 months to 12 years, they were accompanied by Astakhov. He claimed that the Ukrainian National Guardsmen were going to shoot the bus with refugees, but they did not find confirmation of his words.
On March 23, 2023, 17 children returned to Ukraine, whom the occupying authorities of the Kherson region had sent “on vacation” to children’s camps on the territory of the annexed Crimea back in October last year. They promised that the children would go there for ten days, but in the end they spent six months there. The Insider correspondent Tatyana Popova spoke with returned children and their parents in Kiev. According to 16-year-old Vitaly, in the Mechta camp in Evpatoria, children who fought for Ukraine were beaten with an iron stick:
“He beat Astakhov with an iron stick, who is responsible for security. He called himself king there. He said: “You are from Ukraine, who needs you? We will take you to the boarding school, you will sit there and you will understand everything.” One girl was hit on the back, and there was such a bruise right there.
Vitaly says that all the children from the Mechta camp were transferred to the Druzhba camp, and the conditions there were even worse: there was no bed linen, only a dirty mattress and pillow, and for disobedience they were locked in the basement for several hours.
A Yale University lab study said that there are now more than 40 camps for Ukrainian children in Siberia, on the Black Sea coast, in the central regions, in the Urals and in the annexed Crimea. According to the authors of the report, in the camps children are taught about "traditional values", they are taught history according to "Russian standards", they are taught how to shoot and use equipment. Some camps, including those in Crimea and Chechnya, were alleged to be running a "young fighter course " for children.
At the end of December, it became known that the administrations of children's camps in Crimea were not letting Kherson children go home. It was reported that more than 100 children did not return to Balakleya from another camp. The website of the state portal "Children of War" reports the disappearance of 16,226 children. Return to their homeland, according to the site, so far managed 308.
On March 17, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and children's ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova, saying they were responsible for the forced removal of children from Ukraine.