Russia could have forcibly deported approximately 2,500 orphaned children out of Ukraine, according to a report by independent investigative outlet Important Stories (IStories) citing Russia’s government adoption database.
The publication’s analysis of the database revealed that in 2022, a number of Russian regions saw a sharp increase in the number of children put up for adoption. Last year, 21 Russian regions added 2,450 more orphans to the state adoption database than the average for the previous six years.
The journalists noted that it is impossible to claim that all of these children were taken out of Ukraine. However, two of Russia’s regions confirmed that Ukrainian children are indeed included in the data bank. This data also corresponds to claims by Russian children's rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, who said in October 2022 that “at various times there were 1.5-2.5 thousand children” taken out of “dangerous areas of Donbas.”
The largest number of orphans were put up for adoption in the Rostov region (573 children), Moscow (460 children), and the Nizhny Novgorod region (388 children). These children include not only orphans who lived in orphanages in Ukraine, but also those whose parents were killed in the war.
In Russia, children removed from Ukraine are placed in children's institutions, which regularly host “patriotic” events. Children weave camouflage nets for the Russian military and attend meetings with soldiers who have been to the front.
Children are often sent from one region to another; they are even taken to the Far North – to the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area. The publication noted that the transfers make it difficult to establish the exact number of children deported from Ukraine.