The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova on Friday.
Both are accused of war crimes related to the Russia-Ukraine war. The ICC alleges that Lvova-Belova and Putin carried out unlawful deportations of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
Lvova-Belova – who is sometimes referred to as Mother Russia in media reports – works as Commissioner for Children’s Rights for the Russian Federation, a position she has held since being appointed by Putin in 2021. She recently made headlines when she shared information on her Telegram channel that she was helping to match Ukrainian children with Russian parents who were hoping to adopt them.
In the spring of 2022, Lvova-Belova adopted a Ukrainian teenager into her family. The child came from Mariupol, which had recently been attacked by Russians. She allegedly used the example of the transition made by Ukrainian children when they arrive in Russia. After a few months, the Ukrainian child begins to “love” Russia.
“When we took them to the territory of the Moscow region so that they could rest a little, the story that they spoke negatively about began [Putin]said all kinds of nasty things, sang the anthem of Ukraine, ‘Glory to Ukraine’ and all that,” Lvova-Belova said, according to a BBC report. “So yeah, there’s that kind of negativity, maybe at first, but then it turns into love for Russia.”
In February, CNN reported that Lvova-Belova continued to visit Russian-held territories in Ukraine and escort Ukrainian children back to Russia, where they were then adopted by Russian families. According to the report, Putin gave Lvova-Belova permission to take “additional measures” to rescue children without parental care in Russia’s illegally annexed areas of Ukraine, including Zaporizhia, Kherson, Luhansk and Donetsk.
Lvova-Belova frequently shares photos and videos of the children seemingly enjoying their new families on her Telegram channel.
However, the ICC ruled that Lvova-Belova’s work was darker than it appeared on social media. She is accused of the illegal deportation of children and the illegal transfer of children from the occupied territories of Ukraine to Russia.
The ICC released a statement alleging that the crimes were committed on Ukrainian territory beginning on February 24, 2022, when Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine. The operation soon developed into an all-out war.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that Ms. Lvova-Belova bears individual criminal responsibility for the above crimes because she committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others,” the ICC said in the statement.
Putin faces similar allegations.
news week has asked the Russian Federation for comment.