The report says that the Russian government has held thousands of Ukrainian children since the start of the war
The Yale Center for Humanitarian Research in Ukraine: Why Children’s Migrations and Deportations Are Unconscionable and How Government Should be Responsible
“The fact that these are transfers and deportations of children is unconscionable by any standard,” the note said. “Russia must immediately halt forced transfers and deportations and return the children to their families or legal guardians. Russia must provide registration lists of Ukraine’s relocated and deported children and grant access for outside independent observers to related facilities within Russia-occupied areas of Ukraine and inside Russia itself.”
“This is not one rogue camp, this is not one rogue mayor or governor,” says Nathaniel Raymond, executive director of the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab. “It is a massive logistical undertaking that does not happen by accident.”
“The Russian government needs to legitimize its activities, that make all of this seem normal,” she says, “because you simply can’t move these many children through these many places without their movements being noticed.”
He says there are a number of cases in which the kids were supposed to return home but never did, and that they are sometimes re-education camps.
The Yale report is the most extensive look at the program so far, says Raymond. “It shows the scale, the chain of command and the logistical complexity,” he said.
The First Russian Social Media Posts: A Yale Perspective on Human Rights in the Era of World War Crime Investigations – A Case Study of Ukraine’s Donbas
Lvova-Belova used a Russian spelling for the name of Ukraine’s Donbas and wrote about one hundred and eight orphans who will have their parents by the end of the week. Her mother was the first person to be handed over. When I heard this happy child’s laughter, I could not hold back [tears].”
The U.N. senior human rights officials have repeatedly raised the alarm over these activities.
When the first Russian social media posts appeared a year ago, the Yale researchers began looking for missing Ukrainian children. The messaging began at about the time of Putin’s adoption announcement, says one of the Yale researchers. He asked not to be named to protect the security of his work from hackers.
He believes that the first places we saw it were on Telegram and also on VK. Telegram is a popular Russian messaging service. There is a Russian version of Facebook.
The Yale Humanitarian Research lab is defining the future of war crimes investigations by combining open source research techniques with high-resolution satellite imagery to offer analysis of alleged war crimes in real time.
Some researchers look for connections that otherwise might go unrecognized by looking at social media posts, news reports, government announcements and Russian messaging services.
The Yale Lab: Detecting Russia’s War Crimes with Internet Searches, and the Impact on the Children’s Lives
“You can see people. You can see what cars look like. He said you can see certain types of activity. “There’s a very large amount of material related to the patriotic education that they undergo while they are in camps,” he added. The lessons are designed, he says, to instill loyalty to Russia and promote Moscow’s version of the war.
“This operation is centrally coordinated by Russia’s federal government and involved every level of government,” according to the report. The Yale program identified several dozen federal, regional and local figures “directly engaged and politically justifying the program.”
The Yale team are all young Internet sleuths who work to verify the data they dig up and document the steps needed to meet the exacting standards and protocols for trial.
Raymond describes the lab’s role as a “cop shop” – a “cyber cop shop,” that is mindful to detail a chain of custody for the evidence produced. He points to the show Law and Order to understand the Lab’s role.
“Our job is to collect all the evidence, digital evidence, and then make a judgement on how that complies with the law,” he says.
It’s shown that we can collect evidence and use it in ways that were previously impossible. In the past it was only available to governments, he says.
It is the future of war crimes investigations happening now at the Yale Lab, says Raymond, as civil society uses the same tools as governments, “at scale and at speed.”
The report was part of the work of the US State Department-backed Conflict Observatory. The Observatory was established to find evidence of Russian war crimes.
It identified 43 facilities that are a part of the network, which “stretches from one end of Russia to the other,” including Russian-occupied Crimea, the “eastern Pacific Coast – closer to Alaska than it is to Moscow,” and Siberia, Raymond said.
The camp in Chechnya and a camp in Crimea appear to be involved in the training of children for use of firearms and military vehicles, but the researchers haven’t seen any evidence that these children are being sent into conflict.
The status of hundreds of children who were held at these camps is unknown, and the report does not know if they have been returned to their families. This report has identified two camps where children’s scheduled return date has been delayed by weeks. Children’s returns have been indefinitely postponed at two other camps.
“It’s also critically important to understand that these are children who – the lack of contact that they have, or the only intermittent contact that they may have with their parents, is causing very real and potential harm on a very daily basis,” said Caitlin Howarth, also of Yale Humanitarian Research Lab.
The report said it identified several dozen federal, regional, and local figures who were directly engaged in operating and politically justifying the program, and at least 12 of them were not on U.S. or international sanctions lists.
Raymond explained that the system is consistent with the Rome Statute and the Genocide Convention in regards to the prohibition on transferring children from one group to another.
Ned Price, a State Department spokesman said, “Russia’s system of forced relocation, reeducation and adoption of Ukraine’s children is a key aspect of the Kremlin’s systematic efforts to deny and suppressUkraine’s identity, its history and its culture.”
The US State Department said in a media note that “the unlawful transfer and deportation of protected persons is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians and constitutes a war crime.”
The Ukranian Children’s Organization (CARES): Markova Lvova-Belova as a guitar teacher in Donbass
Lvova-Belova was appointed to her position in 2021. There was a working meeting at Putin’s residence in the Moscow region to discuss the issues facing children in Russia-annexed areas of Ukranian.
Adoption should not occur during or immediately after emergencies and children cannot be assumed to be orphans during upheaval, according to the UN’s children’s organization. The UN considers forcibly transferring a population to another country to be a war crime.
“I will be frank, I was crossing the threshold with trepidation: how have they settled in, have they got everything they need, how have the relations with parents and other children in the family worked out,” she wrote. All doubts were erased in the first few minutes. The family is wonderful.
This is another proof that the work we have done on the placement of orphans from the Donbass is worth it. Everything was done right.”
“My thanks go to the British for the attention they have drawn to our mission of helping children in Donbass,” she wrote in June. “In Russia we enjoy friendship as families, as organizations, and as of now, as those affected by sanctions.”
Born in the western city of Penza, Lvova-Belova began her career as a children’s guitar teacher. She worked her way up through the Russian power structure to become involved in local politics.
In a tearful television news report posted to her Telegram channel in November, Lvova-Belova recalled adopting a teenage boy from Mariupol, who said that he had been put on the streets by the guardians who took him in after his mother died of cancer.
She posted idyllic photos of campfires by the Black Sea and said children from the region are in for an “extraordinary camp season.”
Teenagers are able to learn about their life plans and professional guidelines through the nine workshops at the camp. The opening of the camp is just around the corner.
Russian Embassy in Kiev on Thursday: Adoption of a child from the Luhansk republic and the Kherson region into the United States
The embassy accused the US of being responsible for the deaths of children in eastern Ukraine because they had given military aid to the Ukrainians.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Thursday with Maria Lvova-Belova, the official at the center of an alleged Russian government scheme to relocate, reeducate, and sometimes militarily train or forcibly adopt out Ukrainian children.
“You have been doing this for a long time, and I know that the amount of work is growing,” said Putin in video footage of the meeting released by the Kremlin. There are a growing number of applications from our citizens regarding the adoption of children from the Luhansk republic and the Kherson region. The Commissioner’s Institute has been looking at this issue for a long time.