Sergei Mironov, leader of the Russian political party A Just Russia, has secretly adopted and renamed a 10-month-old Ukrainian girl abducted from the Kherson Region while it was under Russian occupation last year, according to a report by independent investigative outlet Important Stories (IStories).
The child, Marharyta Prokopenko, was 10 months old living in a local orphanage when the Russian army occupied the Kherson Region last year. She was later taken to Russia, where her name and citizenship were changed in secret. She is now known as Marina Sergeyevna Mironova and holds Russian citizenship.
In late August 2022, Mironov's wife Inna Varlamova traveled to the Kherson Region with Yana Lantratova, Mironov's first deputy in the State Duma. Local occupation authorities issued a power of attorney for them to transport two children — 10-month-old Marharyta Prokopenko and two-year-old Ilia Vashchenko — from a local orphanage, according to a report by Ukrainian publication Hromadske. IStories reports that Marharyta was discharged even though she was undergoing treatment for bronchitis at the Kherson regional children's hospital.
“When I asked why I had to discharge sick children, Zavalskaya said that that woman chose them and will take them to Moscow, everything is already ready and there are tickets,” said the hospital employee. The doctors managed to postpone the discharge for only a week.
Officially, the children were taken to Moscow for “examination, determination of further treatment tactics and rehabilitation.”
To adopt a child in Russia, an application must be submitted to the court, with such cases processed under special procedures. In November 2022, the Podolsk City Court in the Moscow Region considered a case involving Inna Varlamova as the interested party and the Moscow Region Department of the Ministry of Social Development No. 16 as the applicant, seeking information about Marharyta and Ilia from the Kherson orphanage.
Documents in the possession of journalists reveal that a month after the court's decision, in December 2022, Sergei Mironov and Inna Varlamova adopted Marharyta Prokopenko. A source familiar with Marharyta and Ilia's situation told IStories that Marharyta’s biological father was dead and her mother had been denied custody of her daughter, although she still has other relatives.
Ilia’s circumstances are not entirely clear. IStories discovered that only a year after his deportation, in September 2023, he was issued a new birth certificate, indicating that Ilia is currently the Moscow Region.
The case of Marharyta Prokopenko is the first documented instance of the adoption of a Ukrainian child by a Russian politician of this rank.
In March, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova. Both are suspected of the illegal deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation — a claim Lvova-Belova acknowledged in July, stating that over 700,000 Ukrainian children had been relocated to Russia.