An “antifake” was published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, designed to immediately expose the articles of the US Institute of Peace (USIP), The Washington Post, The Hill and The New York Times about the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICC) to issue a warrant for the arrest of Vladimir Putin and the Commissioner for rights of the child Maria Lvova-Belova, who became suspects in the illegal export of children from Ukraine. In an article titled "Fake-Based U.S. Media Speculation About the ICC Warrant and Children Evacuated from War Zones," the Foreign Office writes:
“The American media and near-state structures continue to purposefully water the Western audience with disinformation flows. The task is to convince our own population that Russia is to blame for all the troubles, to maintain a hostile and negative image of our country, to discredit its foreign and domestic policy.”
Accusing foreign publications of working out the "next order", the Russian department tried to refute the accusations of the ICC as a whole:
“Let us once again pay attention to the words of the Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, V.A. Nebenzi, who emphasized that the evacuation of children from the combat zone is carried out in full compliance with international humanitarian law and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry M.V. Zakharova noted, the evacuated residents of Donbass, including orphans and children left without parental care, left for our country voluntarily, fleeing targeted shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
But the Convention on the Rights of the Child does not say that during hostilities children can be taken to the territory of the occupying country. But there are a number of articles that Russia has definitely violated.
- A child should not be separated from his or her parents “against their will, except in cases where the competent authorities, by judicial decision, determine <...> that such separation is necessary in the best interests of the child” (for example, if parents abuse him) ( article 9);
- “Applications by a child or their parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification must be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner”; the right of the child to leave and return to their country must be respected (art. 10);
- “States Parties shall take measures to combat the illegal movement and non-return of children from abroad” (Article 11);
- “States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” (Article 14);
- “The adoption of a child shall be authorized only by the competent authorities” (Article 21);
- The child's education should be aimed at “cultivating respect for the child's parents, his cultural identity, language and values, for the national values <...> of his country of origin” (Article 29), etc.
Recall that Russia not only took children to its territory without the consent of their parents , other relatives and without the consent of the Ukrainian authorities, but in some cases forcibly re-educated them, forcing them to abandon their cultural identity, language and values. So, in September last year, Maria Lvova-Belova proudly told that the children taken out of Mariupol were successfully taught to love Russia.
“When we brought them to the territory of the Moscow region so that they could recover a little, the story began that they spoke negatively about the president [Putin], said all sorts of nasty things, sang the anthem of Ukraine, “Glory to Ukraine” and all that. <...> We started asking the guys: “So you say Russia is bad. Well, let Russia be bad, you have the opportunity to return now. None of the children wanted to return, they all said: "We are very happy here." Therefore, yes, there is some kind of negative, maybe at the beginning, but then it will be transformed into love for Russia, ”said Lvova-Belova in the Public Chamber.
In February 2023, the BBC Russian Service discovered that in the Rostov region, a presidential grant of almost 3 million rubles was received by the project "Help to orphans of Donbass". As the description of the project says, it “helps” Ukrainian children to go through the “process of changing the Motherland” and instills in them the “Russian world”.
Finally, children abducted by Russia from Kherson, who were returned to Ukraine, said that they were threatened by the Pskov boarding school, they said that their parents had abandoned them, they were beaten with metal sticks. In addition, the Russians told the children that the liberation of Kherson was not true, and they would forever remain "children of Russia."
In addition, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention "On the protection of civilians in time of war" explicitly states that the population can be evacuated "only deep into the occupied territory, except in cases where this is practically impossible." Moreover, people must be returned back after the end of hostilities, and their evacuation must be reported to the “protecting power”. In this context, Vladimir Putin's decree on the simplified acquisition of Russian citizenship by orphans from the DPR, LPR and Ukraine seems to be at least an indirect, if not a direct violation of the Geneva Convention.
As for Maria Zakharova’s statement that children and orphans in Russia left Ukraine voluntarily, it does not correspond to at least the story of one Ukrainian family, where the father, who was detained by the Russian military during the evacuation from Mariupol, was separated from the children subsequently exported to Russia. The family was reunited only because the children had a mobile phone. Using it, they were able to call their father and say that they want to be adopted.
Both Maria Lvova-Belova and Vasily Nebenzya assure that in Russia it is impossible in principle to adopt children transported from Ukraine, but you can only take them under guardianship, which allows you to return the children home if their parents are found. However, then questions remain for Lvova-Belova herself: in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Ombudsman used the word “adoption”:
“Before adopting children, if it turns out that they are orphans, and even before we find their relatives, if any, it is necessary that the children undergo rehabilitation - social, psychological, and, for those who need it, medical rehabilitation ".
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation did not pay attention to such inconsistencies between the words of Vasily Nebenzi and Maria Lvova-Belova. But he complained that Western reporters ignored Lvova-Belova's conference at the Russian Foreign Ministry - after all, then they could "see for themselves that the evacuated children who are under the care of Russian families feel good."