“Where would you take her next?” Months instead of weeks – courageous mother fetches daughter (15) from the Russian camp
Taisia Dozmugaeba (32) allowed her daughter to travel to a Russian summer camp for three weeks. She was not to see Dasha again for over four months.
That’s what it’s about
Holiday camps for children and young people have a long tradition in Ukraine and Russia.
Dasha (15) also wanted to go to a summer camp on the Russian Black Sea coast.
The originally planned three weeks turned into more than four months – those responsible for the camp refused to send the children back. Supposedly out of concern for their safety.
Farmer Taisia had to resort to extraordinary means to get her daughter back.
Ukrainian children and young people are said to have been systematically taken from the areas occupied by Russia to Crimea or the Russian heartland. The summer camps are also likely to be part of this Kremlin initiative.
The International Criminal Court has therefore issued a manhunt for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
«My Dasha was supposed to stay for three weeks in the Russian summer camp in Gelendzhik on the Black Sea. From August 28 to September 19,” says Taisia Dozmugaeba (32). But the daughter never came back. At some point, Taisia learned that the 15-year-old had been taken to another camp.
Her fear was over in mid-December: she was able to hug her daughter again. But only because she personally picked up her child in Russia together with other mothers.
To do this, the single mother from the village of Nechvolodivka, who had never left Kharkiv Oblast, had to undertake a long journey: via Poland to Belarus and finally to Russia.
Who sends their child to the enemy on vacation?
It was not a matter of course that they would return to Ukraine. “Upon arrival, we were asked at the Russian border crossing if we knew that this would be a one-way trip.”
In August, seven children between the ages of 13 and 15 traveled to Russia from Nechvolodivka – together with between 300 and 400 children and young people from the entire Kupjansk region. Not all of them have returned to this day.
Free summer camps for children and young people lasting several weeks have a long tradition in Ukraine and Russia. Nevertheless, it is difficult to understand the decision: who sends their child to the country of the aggressor and enemy for vacation? The mother sighs.
Safe and tanned
“Dasha really wanted it. She had never seen the sea and all her friends from the village were allowed to go. She whined until I gave in.” Also: your village was occupied by Russian troops right at the beginning of the attack, the front was always close, the war with its explosions and skirmishes was omnipresent. “The children should have the chance to recover,” says Taisia.
Above all, children from the region returned safe and tanned from the Russian tourism and recreation center on the Russian Black Sea coast. But when Ukrainian troops retook Kupyansk on September 10, problems surrounding the children’s return began to emerge.
Taken to another camp
Dasha, who regularly reported to her mother how nice everything was, that she was being treated well and that she was having fun, now explained to her mother that the Russian camp officials did not want to send her back because war was raging and they were worried about her safety. “But we’ve had wars before. But now our region and our village were Ukrainian again – that was probably the reason,” says Taisia.
The day of the planned homecoming passed, more days and weeks followed, it was October. «Then Dasha told me that they had been taken to another camp in Anapa because the weather was getting colder and there were heated rooms. The children only had summer clothes with them.”
Russian citizenship for a life in peace?
It was the moment when she and the other mothers from Nechvolodivka realized that they had to do something. Because: “Where would you take the children next?”
They were particularly worried about the offers made to the children by those responsible for the camp and even the mayor of Anapa: “They let it be known that we could pick up the children with the necessary papers at any time. That Russian citizenship was waiting for us and that we could all live in Russia where there would be peace. None of us even considered it. Because home is home. We just wanted our kids back.”
«Not everyone in Russia is bad»
The women from Nechvolodivka applied for passports and realized that the cost of the planned trip was far beyond their means. Only with the help of the non-governmental organization “Save Ukraine” was it possible for two buses to set course for Poland, Belarus and finally Russia at the beginning of December. All in all they were on the road for ten days.
“Yes, it was risky,” the small farmer recalls. “The people from ‘Save Ukraine’ advised us: ‘Don’t say you’re picking up the children, you just want to visit them. If you are offered citizenship, act as if you really think about it.'” Looking back, the farmer from Nechvolodivka says: “Not everyone in Russia is bad. A Russian border guard advised us to choose a different crossing point for exit than for entry. He understood our situation.”
Russia is accused of forcibly relocating thousands of Ukrainian children and youth (see box). The summer camps are also likely to be part of a broader political initiative by the Kremlin to indoctrinate eastern Ukrainians in particular and thus create further prerequisites for Russian annexation.
Deported children: Vladimir Putin wanted
Ukrainian children and young people are said to have been systematically taken from the areas occupied by Russia to Crimea or the Russian heartland. There they are to be accommodated with foster families and re-educated until they forget their homeland and everything Ukrainian. The UN estimates around 1,800 abductees, the US University of Yale assumes at least 6,000 and the Ukrainian government even speaks of 14,000.
The big differences in the numbers speak for themselves: the information cannot be independently verified. But the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which has been investigating this matter for a year, is certain: There are “unlawful deportations” of Ukrainian children to Russian territory. The Criminal Court held Russian President Vladimir Putin “personally responsible” for this. That’s why Putin was put out on Friday for a manhunt.
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