MEPs have called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to issue an arrest warrant for “Belarusian President” Aleksandr Lukashenko over his role in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children.
The MPs stressed that Belarus, as Russia’s accomplice, was responsible for the damage caused to Ukraine in connection with the war, so the EU should ensure criminal prosecution of the republic’s political and military leadership involved in genocide and crimes against humanity.
Earlier, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution calling the deportation of Ukrainian children genocide.
“Since the ICC has already issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, MEPs urge the court to consider issuing a similar arrest warrant for Aleksandr Lukashenko”, the report said.
The MPs also consider it necessary to expand the sanctions list of Belarusians and Russians to include persons involved in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children.
Since September 2022, 2,150 Ukrainian children aged six and older have been taken to camps in Belarus, and by this fall the number may grow to 3,000, writes Telegraph.
The head of the opposition group National Anti-Crisis Management, Pavlo Latushko, said that Lukashenka bore the main responsibility for this forced displacement, as he personally gave instructions to organize the financing of these processes.
Usually children are taken to Belarus via Rostov-on-Don and then distributed to various institutions. Three camps are located in Minsk voblast: the sanatorium “Astrashitski Gorodok,” the national children’s educational and recreational center “Zubryonok,” and the children’s camp “Dubrava”, which belongs to the state company “Belaruskali”. The fourth location is the sanatorium “Zolotye Peski” in Gomel region.
According to the newspaper, in the camps Ukrainian children are indoctrinated that they are Russians, forced to learn the anthem of the Russian Federation, set against Ukraine and even taught to handle weapons. If they refuse to obey, they are beaten.
Lukashenko himself did not deny that Ukrainian children are taken to Belarus. At the same time, he claimed that they simply come for “recuperation” and then do not want to return. “They started accusing Putin first, that children were moving from Donbass to Russia. <…> We are not stealing anyone. <…> That you reproach me for calling these poor people to have a rest and recuperate”, he said.
Telegraph has also seen a document signed by Dmitry Mezentsev, state secretary of the union state of Russia and Belarus. It contains a request for cooperation between the state railroads of both countries to organize “the transportation of Donbas children for recuperation in fraternal Belarus”.
This document and other materials, including reports by Belarusian state media about the movement of children on Lukashenka’s orders, were handed over to the ICC as evidence.
Ukraine claims that 19,592 children have been smuggled to Russia since the start of the war, some of whom were later given up for adoption. So far, only 385 children have been returned.