A Ukrainian Orphan Returns Home After Being Taken to Russia During the War

by Gabriel Martinez
Ukrainian Orphan Return

A Ukrainian teenager orphaned before the war, who was forcibly taken to Russia, has finally returned to his homeland, reuniting with his relatives in Belarus on the occasion of his 18th birthday. The emotional reunion of Bohdan Yermokhin with his family was captured in Minsk, images of which were disseminated on social media by Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian children’s rights commissioner.

The return of Yermokhin to Ukraine was confirmed by Andrii Yermak, the chief of the Ukrainian president’s office, who also shared a photograph of Yermokhin with the Ukrainian flag, acknowledging the efforts of UNICEF and Qatari intermediaries in facilitating the return.

Yermokhin lost his parents two years before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the onset of the conflict, he was taken from Mariupol, where he resided with a cousin, his legal guardian. He was subsequently placed in a foster home near Moscow and granted Russian citizenship, as reported by Ukrainian attorney Kateryna Bobrovska.

Bobrovska, representing both Yermokhin and his cousin Valeria Yermokhina, age 26, earlier informed The Big Big News of Yermokhin’s persistent wish to return to Ukraine. She noted his daily talks about reuniting with his Ukrainian relatives.

Yermokhin’s case is not isolated; he is among thousands of Ukrainian children forcibly relocated to Russia from occupied Ukrainian territories. This practice led the International Criminal Court in March to formally accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lvova-Belova of war crimes. The Hague-based court issued arrest warrants for both individuals, citing credible evidence of their involvement in the illegal deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children.

Despite widespread international condemnation of these actions, Lvova-Belova announced on November 10 that Yermokhin would be permitted to return to Ukraine via a third country.

Earlier in the year, Yermokhin had attempted to escape to Ukraine. In April, Lvova-Belova reported that Russian authorities detained him near the Belarus border. She claimed, controversially, that he was being misled to Ukraine.

Before his departure from Russia, Bobrovska emphasized the urgency of Yermokhin’s return to avoid conscription into the Russian military upon turning 18. He had already received two notices for military service in Russia, which authorities later claimed were only for record-keeping.

Dmytro Lubinets, Ukraine’s human rights commissioner, revealed on his Telegram channel that 386 children have been repatriated to Ukraine from Russia. He affirmed Ukraine’s commitment to continuing these efforts until all are returned.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ukrainian Orphan Return

Who is Bohdan Yermokhin?

Bohdan Yermokhin is an orphaned Ukrainian teenager who was forcibly taken to Russia during the early stages of the Ukraine war. He returned to Ukraine on his 18th birthday after being reunited with his relatives in Belarus.

How did Bohdan Yermokhin return to Ukraine?

Bohdan Yermokhin’s return to Ukraine was facilitated by the efforts of UNICEF and Qatari negotiators. He reunited with his family members in Belarus before returning to Ukraine.

What role did the Ukrainian and Russian officials play in Yermokhin’s case?

Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s children’s rights ombudswoman, initially shared images of Yermokhin’s reunion with his family. Andrii Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, confirmed his return to Ukraine. Ukrainian lawyer Kateryna Bobrovska also played a key role in advocating for his return.

What was the international response to the relocation of Ukrainian children like Yermokhin to Russia?

The International Criminal Court accused Russian President Vladimir Putin and children’s rights ombudswoman Maria Lvova-Belova of committing war crimes by illegally deporting and transferring children from Ukraine to Russia. This action prompted widespread international condemnation.

How many Ukrainian children have been repatriated from Russia?

As of the last update by Ukraine’s human rights commissioner Dmytro Lubinets, a total of 386 children have been brought back to Ukraine from Russia. The Ukrainian government continues to work on repatriating more children.

More about Ukrainian Orphan Return

  • UNICEF’s Role in Child Repatriation
  • ICC’s Accusation Against Putin and Lvova-Belova
  • Ukrainian Government’s Efforts in Child Repatriation
  • The Big Big News Coverage on Yermokhin’s Case
  • Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner’s Updates
  • International Response to the Ukraine-Russia Conflict

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Mike87 November 20, 2023 - 6:57 am

This is why UNICEF’s work is so important. They really make a difference in these situations.

EmilyR November 20, 2023 - 9:20 am

I heard about this on the news, crazy stuff. Putin and Lvova-Belova should be held accountable for sure

John Smith November 20, 2023 - 10:35 pm

Wow, such an emotional story. can’t believe what these kids go through, glad he’s back with his family now..


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