31 children from the annexed Crimea were returned to Ukraine. According to The Insider journalist Marfa Smirnova from Kyiv, buses with children entered the territory of Ukraine on the night of April 8 through Belarus. 33 children were supposed to return, but two - a brother and a sister - could not be taken away, because their grandmother, who was supposed to pick them up, died.
The returned children are mostly from Kherson, they were in different children's camps. According to them, every morning there they were forced to do exercises to the Russian national anthem. For those who did not rise to the anthem, they wrote a report. When officials or employees of the local administration came to them, they were forced to participate in concerts and, in particular, to sing the song “Forward, Russia”.
Marfa Smirnova notes that all the children with whom she managed to talk say the same thing. Several girls told her that, before they were allowed to go home, the camp leaders talked to them and told them not to say anything bad about their stay in Crimea. This was explained to the children by the fact that "no one knows how long Kherson will be Ukrainian."
On March 23, another 17 children were returned to Ukraine, whom the occupying authorities of the Kherson region in October last year sent "on vacation" to children's camps on the territory of the annexed Crimea. Then one of the boys, 16-year-old Vitaly, told The Insider that some children there were beaten, threatened and kept in the basement. According to Vitaliy, a girl from Kherson was hit with an iron stick with such force that she had a “bruise stripe” on her back. The Insider was able to identify the person the boy was talking about. 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.