One year after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 345 Ukrainian minors they are still missing. One of them is Arina Yatsiuka 15-year-old girl kidnapped by Russian soldiers after the murder of her parents.
The event occurred in early March 2022, when his family left their home, not far from kyiv, to seek refuge from the advance of the invading troops in the area. About 15 kilometers away, the family came across a group of soldiers who shot at his carkilling the parents. Arina and her sister Valeria, nine years old, were then kidnapped in different cars. However, Valeria was later found in a nearby town, standing on the road. Arina didn’t show up anymore.
Although the younger sister managed to stay in Ukraine, it is not known what happened to her sister Arinawhose disappearance was officially registered the day after the shooting, on March 3.
Arina’s aunt Oksana Yatsiukexplained to CNN that his family has been looking for the girl for a year, with dark brown eyes and braces.
“She had big dreams, but the ‘Russian liberators’ decided to take everything from her. When we find her, we will continue to support her in her plans,” explained the girl’s aunt.
The family is convinced that Arinawho is now 16 years old, is still alive, but in captivity in Russia.
“I sent an official letter to all the hospitals, ministries and institutions of Ukraine and belarus about her disappearance, but so far no one has been able to tell me where she is,” the aunt explained to the American chain. “She had no documents, so the border crossing was not even registered, and her DNA was not found on the official death list,” she added.
Witness to a war crime
The Ukrainian government claims that many of the missing children have been taken to Russia by force. The Russian government does not deny taking Ukrainian children; in fact, he says he is “saving” them.
A Russian volunteer who is helping the family find Arina also believes the girl was taken to a hospital in Russia and has been there ever since.
“Arina is a witness to a war crime. If her sister did not understand that they killed her parents, she sure did understand, she herself was injured,” he told CNN Marina Lipovetska director of the Ukrainian organization Magnoliawhich deals with cases of missing children.
Magnolia has received more than 2,600 missing-child-related inquiries so far, more than the total number it has received in the last 20 years. “Before the war, most of the cases were leaks, but now most are directly related to military actions,” she explained to the US network.
Although there is still no confirmation of how many Ukrainian children were taken to Russia and where they are, the children themselves Ukrainians witnessed the kidnapping of children at the beginning of the invasion, when the pro-Russian leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk ordered the mass evacuation of civilians. According to Russian officials, the evacuation included children living in orphanages and boarding schools in the two areas controlled by the separatists.
According to statements by Russian regional officials, 400 children were sent to a Rostov of the Don, near the border between Russia and occupied Ukraine, in the first days of the war.
In April, the office of Maria Lvova-Belovathe Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, stated that some 600 children from Ukraine had been placed in orphanages in Kursk and Nizhny Novgorod before being sent to live with families in the Moscow region.
In mid-October, 800 children from the Ukrainian eastern part of Donbas they lived in the Moscow region, many with families, according to the Moscow regional governor.
Some of the children have ended up thousands of kilometers and several time zones away from Ukraine. According to the office of Lvova-BelovaUkrainian children have been sent to live in institutions and with foster families in 19 different Russian regionsincluding the Novosibirsk, Omsk and Tyumen regions in Siberia and Murmansk in the Arctic.
Lvova-Belova herself adopted a 15-year-old boy from Mariupol, according to official statements.
Russia also speaks openly of its efforts to “russify” to children brought from Ukraine.
A new Russian law that came into force in May has made it much easier to grant Russian citizenship to Ukrainians, as long as they are “orphans, children without parental care, or disabled people.” Ukrainian children who receive Russian citizenship also participate in nationalist activities, camps and excursions, as well as being sent to schools “patriotic”
Meanwhile, Friday marked the first anniversary of the disappearance of Arina Yatsiuk.
Her younger sister, Valeria, has been formally adopted by her uncles. the aunt said to CNN that the girl was receiving psychological support and that little by little she was accepting the horrible reality that her parents had been murdered.
“He keeps asking about his sister, he cares about her and he is waiting for her,” she said.
“We all believe that she is alive and that we will soon find her. We are considering all options, including the possibility that she has already been adopted,” she added.
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