Latest News 08-02-2024 12:02 11 Views

Ukraine’s ‘Underground Railroad’ rescues abducted Ukrainian children from Russian reeducation camps

As the 2nd anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine approaches, more evidence has emerged that Moscow's goal is to redraw the map of Europe and erase Ukraine, according to the testimony of three formerly abducted Ukrainian teenagers.

Authorities in Kyiv have provided evidence to the International Criminal Court that more than 19,000 Ukrainian children have been deported by the Russian military from Ukraine and sent to reeducation camps inside Crimea and Russia.

'We do not know how many of our children have been abducted,' testified Ukraine Ambassador Oksana Markarova before Congress on January 31. 'We hear Russians bragging about 700,000 children. We know that our soldiers already registered more than 19,000. But the matter of the fact, until we liberate all Ukraine, until we win this war, we will not know how many of our children and our civilians have been abducted or killed.'

Three Ukrainian teens who escaped from these camps with the help of their relatives and a group called Save Ukraine spoke to FOX News after testifying before the Congressional Helsinki Commission. 19-year-old Ksenia was kidnapped from their home in Kharkiv by Russian troops two years ago with her brother who was 10 years old at the time.

'I was sent to school and my little brother was sent to a ‘summer camp’,' Ksenia told FOX. 'My brother was under pressure all the time. He was told Ukraine has no future that nobody remembers him in Ukraine. He was told that Ukrainians are dumb, that Ukrainians know nothing, they're Nazis. They were telling him, war would destroy Ukraine soon and there was no point going back, that he shall stay in Russia, where he can have future.'

Denys was 16 years old when he was abducted 2 years ago. He spent 10 months in a Russian camp in Occupied Crimea until he was rescued by volunteers from Save Ukraine. He was living in Kherson with his two deaf parents, who could not speak and could not fight back when Russian troops abducted him.

'At the camps, they were telling us that very soon Ukraine will be part of Russia, that it is Russian land,' Denys said during a visit to Washington DC. 'They were pressuring us to become Russians.'

Rostyslav recently celebrated his 18th birthday with other children rescued from the Russian reeducation camps.

'We were supposed to sing the Russian national anthem.

And if you refused, you were punished,' Rostyslav explained. 'If you did not sing for the third time, they would put you in a tiny solitary cell with no window and no phone. I was there four times in 35 days.'  

Rostyslav spoke to us in Ukrainian. Save Ukraine is the largest network of volunteers rescuing Ukrainian children deported to Russia in violation of the Geneva Convention. Its founder, Mykola Kuleba, compares it to 'The Underground Railroad.' He says they have rescued 232 Ukrainian children in the last 18 months and more than 100,000 other Ukrainians after Russia’s invasion, Feb 24, 2022.

'It's very hard. The searching in social media. We receive information on our hotline and check this information. We connect with relatives, with friends, and then we provide rescue operations,' Kuleba explained after testifying before US lawmakers. 'It's very complicated. But we have success.' 

A dangerous journey for the relatives who are trained to sneak behind enemy lines into Russia, pass interrogations by Russian agents working for the FSB, the internal spy agency, and find their missing children, before they are brainwashed and matched to a Russian family for a speedy adoption.

Kuleba explained what it was like for these children inside Russia’s reeducation camps:

'Every day, you should wake up in the morning and sing Russian anthem. You cannot speak your language. You should speak only Russian language. You should attend every day classes and learn how Russian Empire is powerful. That everybody want to hurt you. And you have to be prepared well to fight.'


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