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Return of Bohdan Yermokhin, deported from Mariupol, from Russia to Ukraine

Displaced, lawyer Katerina Bobrovskaya falls into the arms of Bohdan Yermokhin, delighted. “It’s like a dream”, he whispers. After a year and a half in Russia, the latest wait was less than twenty-four hours between the teenager’s flight from Moscow and his arrival at the Domanov crossing on the Belarus-Ukraine border on Sunday, November 19.

The rescue of a Ukrainian child deported from Mariupol by the Russian army in May 2022 was an incredible series, with so many setbacks that few expected a happy outcome. To tell the truth, even Katerina Bobrovskaya could hardly believe it, but she never gave up.

Bohdan Ermokhin – spelled “Bohdan Ermokhin” by the Russian civil registry – is not one of the thousands of anonymous Ukrainian children who have disappeared in Russia, from orphanages to schools and foster families, for whom Kiev is searching for traces. He is part of a group identified as “Mariupoli 31” who were transferred from an orphanage in the city captured by the Russian army to the center of Polyani, Moscow region, under the direct supervision of Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights. , Maria Lvova-Belova. He himself adopted one of them, Philip Golovnia.

Operation Mariupol 31 helped lead to indictments by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against Kremlin leaders Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, who are suspected of war crimes for developing and implementing the policy of deportation and Russification of Ukrainian children. Under the guise of humanitarian evacuation. Kyiv estimates that at least 20,000 Ukrainian children have been deported.

A call from the military recruiting office

For his part, Bohdan Ermokhin never gave up on the idea of ​​returning to Ukraine, even when he sent desperate messages. He tried twice to escape from Russia, without success. On March 15, Kateryna Bobrovskaya fought alone or for almost eight months for his back, the friend of another deported teenager, Bohdan, known by the pseudonym “Roman”, who managed to return to Ukraine wisely. He talked to the teenager every night through messages. She received official documents making her cousin, Valeria Poparcha, her legal guardian.

There was a race against time to get Bohdan Ermokhin back, as he turned 18 on November 19 and had already received a call-up from the Russian Army’s military recruitment office. Three elements finally made it possible, in recent weeks, to unlock the situation. At first, Tatyana Moskalkova, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation, managed to accept the teenager by calling her cousin and promising that she would return to her homeland.

Source: Le Monde

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