The emerging political career of the presidential commissioner for the rights of the child in Russia, Maria Lvova-Belova (Penza, 38 years old), reached a new dimension in her face-to-face meeting with Vladimir Putin on February 16, a month before that it was included together with the president in an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for being "allegedly responsible for a war crime for the deportation and other type of illegal population transfer (minors)."
“Now I know what it is like to be the mother of a child from Donbas.
It's difficult, but we definitely love each other," said the smiling politician when she told Putin how she had welcomed Filipp Golovnia into her family, a 16-year-old teenager from the devastated city of Mariupol who is hardly known about, apart from the fact that he doesn't speak with his biological mother since he was 11.
Russia has been accused by kyiv of kidnapping and indoctrinating these minors and the minor's advocate made controversial statements about it during the annexation of the occupied Ukrainian regions.
“When we brought them [the minors] to the Moscow region so that they could recover a little, the story began that they spoke negatively about the president [Putin], about whom they said all sorts of nasty things and sang the Ukrainian anthem,
Glory to Ukraine
and all that.
Yes, there is some kind of negativity, maybe at first, but then it turns into love for Russia," Lvova-Belova said during an event at the observation center for the pseudo-referendums organized by the Kremlin between September 23 and 27. of 2022.
Also in September, the Ukrainian adoptive son of this senior official received his Russian passport in a nationally televised handover ceremony: “I am now a full-fledged citizen of Russia.
This is very important to me, I am very happy, overwhelmed with emotions”, said the adolescent Golovnia at that ceremony.
“We have received the document in such a short time!
The necessary conditions have been created so that (the passports) are processed in a short time, ”said his new adoptive mother at the time, a promoter of streamlining the procedures to grant Russian nationality to minors in order to facilitate adoptions. .
Lvova-Belova, married to a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, has five biological children, another four adopted and 13 young people, all of them with disabilities, under her guardianship.
In total, 22 people in her care, according to the Russian news agency Tass.
The Russian Ombudsman for Minors was appointed to the position in 2021. Founder at the age of 21 of an organization to promote the social adaptation of disadvantaged minors, Blagovest, Lvova-Belova's final irruption into politics took place in 2019, after passing through some social advisory commissions from Penza, his native region located about 700 kilometers southeast of Moscow.
That year, former President Dmitri Medvedev himself gave her the card of Putin's party, United Russia, and she was appointed regional head of the All-Russian Popular Front, a political movement founded by the Kremlin in 2011 to extend its tentacles to all social sectors, from the pensioners to schools and unions.
An "extreme case"
Lvova-Belova had planned to give a press conference in Moscow this week, but ultimately did not appear, and the department she directs has not responded to this newspaper about the situation of minors.
Her only comments about her arrest warrant were made the same day as the announcement, when she, in incomprehensible statements, stated: "It is very good that the international community appreciates our country's help to children." .
She later told Russian journalists on a trip to Yekaterinburg on February 22: “What the International Criminal Court charges us with, and what the international community now charges us with, has no concrete basis.
They have not told us a single surname, we have not received a single request confirming that the children are separated from their parents or that they were deported to Russian territory, ”she said.
The department headed by Lvova-Belova insists that adoptions by Russian families are an extreme case, since it prefers the legal figure of guardianship to return the children "if relatives appear."
However, Article 49 of the Geneva Convention establishes that "mass or individual transfers of a forced nature, as well as deportations of protected persons from the occupied territory to the territory of the occupying power, are prohibited, whatever the reason." , and evacuations, only allowed for reasons of a forced nature, "may not involve the displacement of protected persons beyond the interior of the occupied territory."
The senior official has so far avoided commenting on the risks that the arrest warrant implies for her person.
Lawyer Pavel Chikov, a former member of the presidential council for the development of civil society and human rights in Russia, and now declared a foreign agent by the Kremlin, hinted that Washington could put a price on his surrender: "A little-known fact is that the US Department of State has a rewards program for war crimes.
For information leading to the capture of those wanted for these crimes, the Department of State promises to pay up to five million dollars.
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