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Ukrainian Teens Were Pushed to Go to ‘Camp’ in Crimea: Report

  • Russia has been accused of forcibly removing thousands of Ukrainian children from their homes.
  • One study claimed that children are being sent to re-education camps across Russia.
  • Some Ukrainian students were told they needed to go to Crimea for school “camp,” WaPo reported.

Some Ukrainian teenagers were told that they needed to go to a “camp” in Russian-occupied Crimea for school only to have no way of returning home, The Washington Post reported.

Students from Kherson, which was seized by Russian troops in March 2022, told the Post their school directors pressured them to go to the “camp.”

In one case, Denys Berezhnyi, who was 17 at the time, was studying to be a locksmith when a school official told him in October 2022 that he would need to go to the camp and that his parents had already signed off on legal documents allowing Berezhnyi to travel, according to the Post.

Berezhnyi told the publication that the parents were unaware of signing any document.

The student agreed to go to the camp for fear of repercussions and traveled by bus and boat with other children to Crimea.

Russia has been repeatedly accused of kidnapping or forcibly removing Ukrainian children from their homes.

One study funded by the US State Department said that more than 6,000 children, some as young as four months old, were taken to one of 43 camps across Russia, and some of them are being taken to “re-education camps” or military training programs where they learn to military equipment or shoot firearms.

Re-education camps “expose children from Ukraine to Russia-centric academic, cultural, patriotic, and/or military education,” the study said.

One video posted on social media appeared to show two women entertaining a group of Ukrainian children while praising Russian President Vladimir Putin and calling for the deaths of President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Some children were punished or left sick, according to the Post.

Berezhnyi, who is diabetic, told the publication that he was hospitalized for weeks against his will after he ran out of insulin. Another student said he was placed in solitary confinement for about nine days for not singing the Russian national anthem.

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine said in September that the exact number of children who were taken from their homes and what exactly happened to them was unclear.

Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, denied earlier this year that Russia was “stealing children” from Ukraine and said instead that it was “saving” them.

In March, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegally deporting Ukrainian children and transferring them to Russia.

Children taken to Russia or Russian-occupied territories have no way of returning to their country on their own, often spending months away from their homes.

Organizations such as Save Ukraine have to coordinate with a parent or legal guardian who can retrieve the child but can sometimes run into unforeseen complications, the Post reported.

Berezhnyi left Crimea with the help of Save Ukraine after searching for his own way out.

A UN Commission spokesperson previously told Insider that the children targeted are often those who are in orphanages or hospitals or those who have lost contact with their parents or legal guardians after the Russian invasion in February 2022.

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