The Kherson Regional Military Administration reports the retrieval of 24 more children who were illegally kept in occupied territories by the Russian Federation. Their successful return was made possible by the efforts of Save Ukraine volunteers.
Alexander Prokudin, the head of the Administration, welcomed the children and gave them presents.
According to the volunteers, the Russian side had subjected the children’s parents to 13 hours of interrogation and made them appear in a propagandist television report.
Earlier, on April 8, 31 children were returned to Ukraine from annexed Crimea. The initial plan was to bring home 33 children, but, as The Insider correspondent Marfa Smirnova reported, the grandmother of two of the children, who was supposed to pick them up, had died shortly before.
Those children were also from Kherson; they'd been kept in several children's camps, where they were made to participate in “patriotic” activities like morning workouts to Russia's national anthem and singing the song “Go, Russia!”. Before departure, they were instructed not to tell anyone about their unpleasant experiences in Crimea because “no one knows how long Kherson will remain Ukrainian”.
On March 23, 2023, Ukraine retrieved 17 children whom the occupation authorities of the Kherson Region had sent to “children’s camps” in annexed Crimea as early as last October. One of the boys, Vitalii, 16, told The Insider that some of the minors had been beaten, threatened, and kept in the basement, and a girl from Kherson was heavily hit with an iron stick. The Insider identified the person responsible for those acts. The man is Valerii Astakhov, an ex-officer of Berkut, the Ukrainian special police that defended Viktor Yanukovych’s regime during the Euromaidan.