Russian church russifies deported Ukrainian children

June 5,2024 865
Russian church russifies deported Ukrainian children

The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) is russifying Ukrainian children deported to Russia, writes the Institute for the Study of War. The analytical center refers to a joint investigation by the Russian opposition student journal DOXA and the resource Kidmapping.

DOXA found that from the early days of Russia’s 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian officials deported children from orphanages and boarding schools in occupied Donetsk Oblast to Russia’s Rostov Oblast, where they were visited by Metropolitan Mercury (Igor Ivanov) of Rostov and Novocherkassk, who spoke to them about the ROC and seemingly enticed them to consider baptism into the ROC,” the text states. 

Russian priests also encouraged Ukrainian children to join various “military-patriotic” youth organizations in Russia. “DOXA and Kidmapping also found that deported children from occupied Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts stayed at shelters run by the ROC in Voronezh Oblast, where ROC clergy and affiliated officials hold “military-patriotic” events for the deported children in order to encourage pro-Russian and pro-ROC sentiment and cut the children off from their Ukrainian identities,” analysts write. 

The ROC plays an important role in implementing the Kremlin’s plan to occupy Ukraine, and these efforts also extend to the Russification of deported Ukrainian children, the Institute writes. “Kremlin-appointed Commissioner on Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova, against whom the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant due to her role in facilitating the deportation of Ukrainian children, is notably married to an ROC priest. Lvova-Belova and her husband have themselves adopted a deported Ukrainian child from Mariupol, highlighting the personal involvement of the ROC and other Kremlin officials in the deportation of Ukrainian children,” the text reads.

The deportation of Ukrainian children to destroy their Ukrainian identity through such Russification projects violates the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which prohibits “forcibly transferring children of a group to another group,” as this constitutes an act of genocide, analysts emphasize.

Cover: Shutterstock

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