HEARTBROKEN Ukrainian mums have shared their fears after their children were snatched by Vladimir Putin’s forces and transferred to hellhole camps across Russia.
Desperate parents described how their kids were sent on “school trips” but ended up in “re-education” camps where they were often starved and beaten.
Children believed to have been abducted from Ukraine appeared on a stage with soldiers in Moscow[/caption]
Thousands of young Ukrainians are thought to have been transferred to Russian camps[/caption]
Teddy bears were left in front of the European Commission to highlight the reported abduction of Ukrainian children by Russia[/caption]
Thousands of children have been abducted or taken to Russian-controlled areas with only a few of them reuniting with their families in Ukraine.
Distressed mothers told the Sunday Times how they were pressured to send their kids to summer camp and then lost contact with them for months.
Single mum Tatiana Vlaiko from Kherson said she was forced to send her 11-year-old daughter Lilya to a two-week summer camp in Moscow-annexed Crimea in September.
Even though communication was limited, she managed to get through a few times.
Young Lily spoke of fun activities but Tatiana was alarmed when her daughter mentioned everything was in Russian and the kids were forced to sing the Russian national anthem every day.
She was later told Lily had been moved to a different camp.
And despite her efforts to contact her daughter’s teacher, she could not find out where her daughter was.
In a similar situation was Lyudmila Motychak, 44 who lost contact with her daughter Anastasia, 15, after she was sent on a school trip to a “health camp in Crimea.”
In a Telegram message, Anastasia told her mum they had been told, to tell the parents to go to Crimea as they would have ” a flat and money.”
Another mum from Beryslav, Kherson, Inessa Vertash, was also pressured to send her son Vitaliy, 15, to a camp by his headmistress.
The mum shared how the teen described in tears the horrid living conditions at the camp over the phone.
She said: “He called me, crying, saying it’s not a camp for kids, it’s like a prison.
“There were no sheets on the beds, they were made to wear clothes of old people, given food only fit for pigs and beaten if they didn’t sing the Russian anthem.
“He told me camp workers were forcing 13-year-old Ukrainian girls to have sex with them.”
She added that the children were told their parents had left Ukraine and abandoned them.
Tatiana and Lyudmila was able to travel to Crimea alongside other parents and reunite with their daughters nearly four months later with the help of the Save Ukraine organisation.
They belonged to the lucky ones as only 307 children out of thousands have returned to their families-Inessa is still looking for her son.
According to The Ukrainian Government website Children of War, 353 children remain missing, 16221 have been deported, 10147 have been found – while only 307 have been reunited with loved ones.
It comes as a study by Yale University published last month revealed that at least 6,000 children from Ukraine have been taken to re-education camps across Russia including in Moscow-annexed Crimea and Siberia, for “pro-Russia patriotic and military-related education.”
The report notes that the number is “likely significantly higher.”
Russia has tried to cast the relocation effort as saving orphans or bringing children for medical care but parents say their children were abducted or they were pressured to give consent to send them away.
The study said that Putin’s aides have been closely involved in the operation, especially Maria Lvova-Belova, the presidential commissioner for children’s rights.
Belova who was previously accused of “barbaric treatment of children was quoted as saying that 350 children have been adopted by Russian families and that more than 1,000 were awaiting adoption.
Over a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is feared that thousands of Ukrainian children were taken from occupied regions and given for adoption to Russian families.
Russia claims that the children placed for adoption were orphaned but it is feared the shady adoption scheme could be a coverup to kidnap Ukrainian children, change their names and give them Russian passports.
An investigation by The Sun into Ukraine’s missing children back in September revealed that thousands of children have been deported during Putin’s invasion.
A gran spent months looking for her family after their home was destroyed by Russian shelling.
She was left in shock when she came across a clip online showing her granddaughter Nastya being introduced to new adoptive parents in Russia.
Under the 1948 Geneva convention, forcibly transferring children and changing that child’s nationality or civil status is considered a war crime.
Nathaniel Raymond, a Yale researcher, said that Russia was in “clear violation” of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the treatment of civilians during war.
The Russian activity “in some cases may constitute a war crime and a crime against humanity,” he told reporters.
The report called for a neutral body to be granted access to the camps and for Russia immediately to stop adoption of Ukrainian children.
Ukraine’s government recently said that more than 16,000 children have been deported to Russia where some have been sexually exploited.
Thousands of children have been sent on “school trips” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine[/caption]
Only a few of them have been reunited with their parents[/caption]