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young Bogdan back home, symbol of the 20,000 children kidnapped and transferred to Russia

A year and a half ago, young Bogdan was taken by force to Russia. He was able to return to Ukraine on Sunday, just before he was old enough to be conscripted by the Russian army.


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A mother and her child in the streets of Mariupol, November 29, 2022 (illustrative photo).  (STRINGER / AFP)

It is a soap opera that has kept Ukraine in suspense for weeks: the return to the country of Bodgan Yermokhine. This orphan from Mariupol was forcibly taken to Russia, along with 30 other children and adolescents, by the Russian army in May 2022. They were then placed with foster families for adoption. On Sunday, November 19, he was recovered at the last minute a few hours before his 18th birthday, when he was summoned to the Russian military recruitment office.

On November 9, from Russia, Bogdan Yermokhine launched a desperate appeal on social networks to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.“I am on Russian territory and I ask you to take me home”, he implored. Because his home is Ukraine. Bogdan Iermokhin had never given up since he was forcibly taken from his orphanage in Mariupoul by the Russian army.

From Russia, he posted songs in praise of Ukraine on social networks. He tried to escape twice, but was always caught at the border. He was then put in touch with a Ukrainian lawyer, Kateryna Bobrovskaya, who brought his fight to the end.

Mediation from Unicef ​​and Qatar

The lawyer was galvanized by the risk that Bogdan would be enlisted in the Russian army for his 18th birthday, in November, and that he would never be able to return. “He wanted to return, it was a dream and it has just come true”, she explains. This dream came to fruition thanks to extraordinary mobilization and mediation led by Unicef ​​and Qatar.

According to Ukraine, more than 20,000 Ukrainian minors have been forcibly deported by Russia. These children would be placed in families to be “Russified”, losing all contact with Ukraine, even their identity. This very thoughtful operation earned Vladimir Putin and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court. They are suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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