Maria Lvova-Belova is the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Russia and is said to be a leading figure in the project that deported children from Ukraine and placed them in Russia.
In an interview with Vice, she dismisses the criticism and claims that the children wanted to go to Russia.
– It’s funny. I am a mother. It says it all. A war criminal? What are you talking about?
Maria Lvova-Belova is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), suspected of organizing illegal deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia. According to Ukrainian authorities, it is about almost 20,000 children.
As against Russian President Vladimir Putin, the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against Lvova-Belova.
– First, Russia does not recognize the International Criminal Court. By the way, I don’t fully understand what they are accusing us of – there is no official document, she says in the interview.
Furthermore, Lvova-Belova says that she herself took care of one of the abducted children. Philip, a 16-year-old boy from Mariupol, now lives with her in Russia.
– My heart called me to him. He was in the Mariupol group, which we evacuated after the violence.
– There was a group of 31 children, mostly teenagers. We talked to him and my heart trembled, and I realized that he was my child, she says.
She dismisses the accusations that these are forced deportations. She believes that the children have expressed a desire to flee to Russia.
– It’s just about empathy and love and a desire to protect the children, she says.
Lvova-Belova is said to be in close contact with Putin and she says that the Russian president is satisfied with her efforts. The accusations of war crimes only strengthen her determination to continue her work, she believes.
Despite the suspicions of war crimes, she continues to work on abducting children from Ukraine. Now they are being deported from Bachmut – a city where fierce fighting has raged for several months.
– My staff and I recently evacuated children from there. We saved children. We took them to places where they can survive and be safe, she says.