On the 16th of November 2023, the Humanitarian Research Laboratory at the Yale School of Public Health (Yale HRL) published a report titled 'Belarus' Cooperation with Russia in the Systematic Deportation of Ukrainian Children.' This report provides extensive documentation on the involvement of Lukashenko and his regime in the forcible displacement of children from the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine to Belarus.
The publication by HRL presents significant findings regarding the number of displaced Ukrainian children, the locations and routes of displacement, the programs implemented during the process, as well as the key individuals responsible for decision-making and execution. According to data from the National Anti-Crisis Management, HRL confirms that a minimum of 2,442 Ukrainian children between the ages of 6 and 17, including those from vulnerable groups, were forcibly displaced from 17 cities in Ukraine to at least 13 facilities in Belarus. Furthermore, a significant number of children, specifically 2,050 Ukrainian children, were transferred to the Belarusian camp known as "Dubrava."
HRL emphasizes that the displacement of this magnitude can be reliably confirmed, and it is highly likely that the actual number of illegally displaced Ukrainian children surpasses the reported figure. The forced displacement of Ukrainian children by Belarus and Russia, along with their re-education involving military training and weapon use, is characterized as systematic.
The report reveals that the relocation of Ukrainian children was directly coordinated between Lukashenko and Russian President V. Putin under the guise of a so-called 'military training' program. Putin acted within the framework of the Union State agreement with the support of the intelligence agencies of both Russia and Belarus. Lukashenko, in turn, exercised direct control over Belarus' involvement in the illegal movement of Ukrainian children, approving the financing of their transfer from the joint budget of the Union State and engaging state and non-state organizations in Belarus to facilitate the process.
Key entities involved in identifying Ukrainian children subjected to displacement include the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, the Border Department of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Rostov region, and the Ministry of Education of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LNR). The Ministry of Education of the LNR issued thirty powers of attorney for the relocation of Ukrainian orphans.
Individuals such as Aleksei Talai and his foundation, Olga Volkova and her organization 'Dolphins,' and Belaruskali played significant roles in the relocation of Ukrainian children to Belarus. The report also cites Pavel Latushka discussing the involvement of the head of Belaruskali in the relocation process.
Regarding the re-education programs implemented for Ukrainian children, HRL found that at least 9 groups, distributed across 8 out of the 13 institutions, were subjected to such programs. These re-education initiatives included the promotion of cultural, historical, social, patriotic, and other ideas that served the political interests of the regimes in Belarus and Russia. Additionally, at least 6 groups of Ukrainian children received military training in Belarus, including at the bases of Belarusian internal security forces.
The process of re-education involved Russian and Belarusian officials, pro-regime public organizations, ultra-nationalist extremist groups, state-owned industrial companies, local organizations in Belarus, and pro-regime politicians.
Earlier, on the 14th of February 2023, the Humanitarian Research Laboratory at the Yale School of Public Health published a report on Russia's reeducation and adoption program for Ukrainian children, which attributed responsibility for organizing such a program to Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova. Following the publication of this report, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for these individuals on the 17th of March 2023.
Head of the NAM, Pavel Latushka, stated, "This report from an independent and authoritative organization actually confirms all the facts previously submitted by the National Anti-Crisis Management to the International Criminal Court. This fact undoubtedly strengthens the work of the NAM, aimed at preventing the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children to Belarus and the prosecution of the main offenders.
Democracy wins when accountability comes. Lukashenko and his accomplices commit thousands of crimes against Belarusians and Ukrainians. The facts of the crimes are recorded by various international organizations and institutions. All of them are qualified in accordance with the criminal legislation.
Therefore, there is every reason to believe that justice will prevail and Lukashenko will be punished for his crimes. Otherwise, democracy will not win.”
The new publication by HRL complements the February report by highlighting the role of Lukashenko and other representatives of his regime in the transfer and re-education of children from the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine to Belarus.