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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Report: Ukrainian Children Sent To Indoctrination Camps In Crimea And Russia's Far East

A new report documents how Russia has been sending thousands of Ukrainian children to different Russian run re-education camps, where they are being indoctrinated with pro-Kremlin views.

Photo of the airport in Magadan, Russia

At the airport in the far eastern Russian region of Magadan

Cameron Manley

Since Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine began, Russian authorities have deported at least 6,000 Ukrainian children to a network of re-education and adoption centers in occupied Crimea and in rural locations in Russia, according to a new report by Conflict Observatory, in conjunction with the Humanities Research Laboratory at the Yale School of Public Health.

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The investigators have identified 43 institutions that have held children from Ukraine since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24.

The main purpose of the camps is political and ideological inculcation — at least 32 of them are engaged in systematic re-education, focused on Russian academic, cultural, patriotic, and/or military education.

The report notes that in any cases where parental consent was sought, it was obtained under duress and was regularly violated. The report also states that this process is centrally coordinated at all levels of the Russian government.

Transformed summer camps

"The results show that most of the camps were engaged in pro-Russian re-education efforts, and some camps were conducting military training for children or were suspending the return of children to their parents in Ukraine," the report said.

The report identified the ages of the children ranging from four months to 17 years old. The displacements, the most recent of which occurred in January, have been ongoing since the start of the war.

The network covers at least 43 sites, 41 of which are pre-existing summer camps in Crimea and Russia.

The exact number of sites is likely to be significantly more than 43. Yale researchers have identified two sites associated with the deportation of orphans: a psychiatric hospital and a family center. The furthest camp that this investigation has identified is in the Magadan region in the Russian Far East near the Pacific Ocean, about 3,900 miles from Ukraine's border with Russia. The Magadan camp is about three times closer to the United States than it is to the border with Ukraine," the report says.

Photo of the Crimean bridge

The Crimean bridge

Администрация Президента России / Wikimedia Commons

Orphans of Mariupol

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the Russian Federation has repeatedly relocated children from Ukraine. According to the American Institute for the Study of War, they are given up for adoption by Russian families.

In the fall, it was revelaed that the Russian children's ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova had adopted a boy who was taken from Mariupol. Sanctions have since been imposed by the West against her.

The Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for the Rights of the Child and Child Rehabilitation Daria Gerasimchuk reported that Ukraine is aware of the abduction of almost 14,000 children by the Russians.

Putin wants to rob Ukraine of its future by taking its children.

Head of the Russian-controlled Crimean government, Sergei Aksyonov, commented sarcastically on what he referred to as the “fake reports” by Ukrainian and Western sources. "Yes, we are the 'bad Russians' they say we are: we torture children with the sea, the sun, the healing climate, educational and entertainment programs, and possibly even Soviet cartoons. It’s a real children's nightmare and a children's Gulag," he wrote on his Telegram channel.

Ned Price, U.S. State Department Spokesman, said in a news briefing that Putin was seeking “to rob Ukraine of its future by taking its children… The devastating impact of Russia’s war of aggression will be felt for generations to come. This report and others like it reinforce U.S. and international resolve to pursue accountability for Russia’s war crimes.”

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