Ukrainian War: Mother tricked into sending daughter to Russian ‘indoctrination’ camp reveals rescue and emotional reunion | world news

Ukraine has been telling anyone who will listen for months that Russia has an official state-sponsored plan to effectively steal Ukrainian children, take them to Russia and turn them against their own country.

The Ukrainian government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) say the number of missing children in the last year alone is over 16,000.

They say the Russian brainwashing program dates back to the start of this conflict in 2014, and during that time more than 700,000 children were illegally displaced.

Some parents have become so desperate that they risk traveling thousands of miles from Ukraine through Poland, then Belarus and Russia to Crimea to pick up their children.

In a hostel in kyiv created for refugees, I met Lyudmila Motychak and her 15-year-old daughter, Anastasia.

Lyudmila had been on the harrowing journey, but she lit up when she showed me the moving video of the couple reuniting outside a Russian children’s facility in Crimea, after months apart.

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Nastya and her mother Lyudmila spoke to Sky News about their ordeal

Skeptical from the start, Lyudmila described how she was actually tricked into letting her daughter go on a school trip, organized by Russian authorities to Kherson and Crimea.

She said: “We were told it would be a camp, and the kids were going for two weeks, and they told us not to worry, they would bring our kids back, a lot of kids were going. .

“I was afraid to let her go from the start. I said it was a war, that she shouldn’t go, but they insisted that everything would be fine.

“They told me not to worry, everything will be fine. They said there is no war there, everything is fine there, they will feed them five times a day and it’s good for his health, and that there is everything there, even a swimming pool.”

Two weeks later, when her daughter failed to return, Lyudmila realized something more sinister was at play.

“They told me it would be great for my child, but there was nothing like it there, to be honest.”

Forced to sing the Russian national anthem

Lyudmila described how she phoned teachers and the director of the educational institution her daughter attended. They kept telling her that she would come back at some point, but that the trip had turned into an evacuation because of the war.

Her daughter Anastasia, known as Nastya, told us that when she left Kherson she left in a convoy of 100 buses, each carrying 30-40 children. That’s over 3,000 children in a single trip.

The opportunity was described to him as something like “summer camp”, even though it was in October.

But, she said, it was none of that.

She described how they were forced to sing the Russian national anthem and follow strict orders.

“They told us, ‘We feed you, we give you water, and we bring you heat and comfort, and you are so ungrateful.’

“They were confiscating balloons that we had in the colors of the Ukrainian flag, and they were also shouting at us saying: ‘We are ungrateful’, and to ‘go back to your fascists’.”

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After two weeks, Nastya asked if she could go home, but the authorities were stalling.

She said: “They started delaying and telling us by that date…you’ll be going home, don’t worry.

“But we didn’t go when those dates came around.

“Then they started offering us other dates, but we never left.

“Then they told us it was an evacuation, then finally they said we had to stay indefinitely – and only our parents could come and get us out.”

With the help of Save Ukraine, a Ukrainian NGO that helps families travel to Russia and the occupied territories to pick up their children, Lyudmila and Nastya were able to reunite.

“The indoctrination of our children”

Lyudmila thinks the plan was always to take the kids in for good and then try to convince the parents to follow – and stay.

She said: “They took the children and then they wanted the parents to join their children, then they promised money, and they promised houses and flats, financial help.

“Of course they wanted people to adopt their way of thinking. They wanted people to join in and play by their rules.”

Ukrainian authorities and Save Ukraine say this is all part of a detailed strategy Russia was to take to take Ukrainian children.

Save Ukraine spokeswoman Olga Yerokhina said: “We see this as a re-education and indoctrination of our children, and when I think of those children who have no parents for different reasons, how are we going to find them at all.”

“We have to look at this from the point of view of history. This is not new and this has all been prepared. What are they doing with the children… this is part of a larger policy against Ukraine .”

Olga Yerokhina
Olga Yerokhina

I asked her if she thought it was part of a well-orchestrated plan.

She replied, “Yes, we understand it wasn’t just about the full-scale invasion in 2022, it was prepared long before that.”

The exact number of children who have left Ukraine, or been forcibly displaced, and who may never be seen again, is not known.

But the Charges before the International Criminal Court (ICC) may one day bring someone involved to justice. This is what Olga Yerokhina wants – some kind of concerted international plan and justice.

She said: “We have a lot of work to do.

“We hope that the international community, Poland and the United Nations, together, we can create some kind of mechanism for the return of these children.

“We are realistic. Maybe we can’t do it for everyone, but we have to do everything we can.”


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