Hello. It looks like you�re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best Tortoise experience possible, please make sure any blockers are switched off and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help, let us know at memberhelp@tortoisemedia.com

The 31: Ukraine’s stolen children

The 31: Ukraine’s stolen children


Why is the Kremlin forcibly deporting tens of thousands of children to Russia?

Why this story?

In March the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova. The arrest warrants weren’t for Russian atrocities committed at Bucha or Olenivka or the widespread use of rape and torture. They were for the forced abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. 

Many of these children have been placed in foster care with Russian families. Lvova-Belova herself has adopted one. 

Exactly how many children have been taken in this way isn’t yet known. Estimates vary from 20,000 to as many as 200,000, maybe even higher. But what is clear is that this is part of a grand plan by the Russian authorities to wipe out a nation and its future – with terrifying echoes of the Soviet Union under Stalin. 

Ian Birrell, who has spent many years reporting in Ukraine, has pieced together the story of three children from Mariupol, who were part of a special group of 31 taken to Moscow.