“Pure propaganda” say Ukrainians in Portugal; government agrees
Vasily Nebenzya, Russian ambassador to the United Nations has accused Portugal, Spain and Germany of taking “hundreds” of Ukrainian children away from their mothers and placing them in foster care in their respective countries.
The claim comes hot on the heels of media exposés and independent research to show that this is in fact something Russia has been doing in an apparent bid to ‘re-educate Ukrainian children’.
Arrest warrants for Russian president Vladimir Putin and his high commissioner for children’s rights were issued by the International Criminal Court three weeks ago.
Yesterday, Vasily Nebenzya presented testimonies to suggest the ICC (and media investigators) have it all wrong: it is countries of the West that are abducting children.
“I am Alina Komisarenko, from the city of Zaporijia. My son was taken by the juvenile system in Portugal,” a woman said in a video presented at an informal Security Council meeting to address “the measures taken by the Russian authorities to remove children in danger.”
“I inform the Ukrainian media that I am not a ‘fake’, I am a Ukrainian citizen,” the woman added.
The veracity of the testimonies presented by the Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN cannot be verified.
They received yesterday’s exposure on the back of the fact that Russia is currently chairing the UN security council – a situation that has been described as taking absurdity to a new level, and which coincidentally came into effect on April Fools Day.
According to Vasily Nebenzya, Western countries want to hush up the fact that they are taking children from Ukrainian refugees.
“The number of people who have experienced this is in the hundreds”, he said. Young children are being taken to reception centres by strangers. Mothers who are trying to get their children back are threatened with criminal prosecution,” he went on.
“We have to ask what will happen to the children with Ukrainian identity in German and Spanish shelters? But apparently that is a different matter. The problem has reached a scale where mothers have lost hope and have used social media to reach out to us directly,” he went on.
One of the women whose testimony was released at the meeting was Yulia Panasenko, who accused Spain of withholding her son.
“My son was taken away by social services in Derio, Spain. I inform the Ukrainian press that I am not ‘fake’, I am a real person,” she said, while showing a photo of her alleged passport.
Also a woman introduced as Elena Kovalena, who claims to be from the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, reported that her son, Richard Kovalev, “was taken by strangers nine months ago” and is now with a German family.
“I tell this story to everyone, everywhere. I’ve had four hearings, but they won’t give me my son, who is under German guardianship, in some German family, I’m told. I have only seen him three times, for one hour. My boy will soon forget that he has a mother. This is alienation. Please save my Ukrainian son. This is not ‘fake’. I beg you,” she appealed.
Other women claimed on video that their children were taken to European countries.
The Russian ambassador “took the opportunity” to address civil society in European countries, “those for whom human rights and children’s rights are not just a propaganda element to fight Russia, but a system of values.”
“If you can help those Ukrainian mothers, get in touch with us and we will put you in direct contact with them. Our address is on the Internet,” he said.
“As for the criminal regime of (Volodymyr) Zelensky (Ukrainian President) and the European governments that give Zelensky cover, neither we nor the mothers have much hope for them in the territory under the control of the Kiev regime.” he added.
The allegations have been “firmly repudiated” by the Portuguese government – and dismissed as “pure propaganda” by Ukrainian representatives in Portugal.
Pavlo Sadohka, head of the association Ukrainians in Portugal, says Nebenzya” has always made propaganda statements that do not correspond to the truth“.
The issue of ‘child abductions’ from war zones came to a head earlier this year with a report by the Yale School of Public Health’s Humanitarian Research Laboratory (HRL). Researchers have estimated that more than 6,000 Ukrainian minors have been placed in 43 Russian re-education camps and orphanages following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over a year ago. The understanding is that the number “could be considerably higher”.
Non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch has also compiled a report in which it claims thousands of Ukrainian children living in orphanages have been forcibly transferred to Russia or occupied territories.
According to Ukrainian authorities, over 16,000 children had been deported to Russia by the end of February.
It’s a figure that the UN Human Rights Commission has as yet been unable to confirm. But the fact that the ICC has issued arrest warrants would suggest evidence exists.
The ICC’s ethos is to investigate and “where warranted, try individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression”.
123 countries are ‘signed up to the ICC’s Rome Statute‘, meaning, among other things, that they agree to comply with ICC arrest warrants. This is now a major issue in places like South Africa, which is scheduled to receive Vladimir Putin in August.
This may be the reason for the UN ambassador’s claims.
Source material: Lusa