A teenager deported from Mariupol to Russia back home testifies

“Every child feels abandoned”, says upon return a Ukrainian teen forcibly transferred to Russia

By Maryana Sych

RFE/ RL (17.12.2023) – A Ukrainian teenager who was forcibly removed from his homeland by invading Russian forces and sent to Moscow in 2022 had his birthday wish granted last month when he was returned to Ukraine and reunited with family.

Bohdan Yermokhin grew up as an orphan in Mariupol, a city in Ukraine’s Donetsk region that became the target of a brutal siege in the early weeks of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. As Russian forces took control of the city, Yermokhin became one of more than 20,000 children Ukraine says have been illegally transferred to Russia since the war began.

He spent about 1 1/2 years in foster care against his will in Russia before his release was secured on November 19, the day he turned 18, following Ukrainian and international intervention.


From his new home in the Ukrainian capital, he spoke this month to Maryana Sych of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service about being sent away from his hometown along with 31 other Ukrainian children. He talks about efforts by Moscow to indoctrinate him, to draft him into the Russian military to fight against his native country, and of his desire to escape Russia.


HRWF Database of news about the deportation of Ukrainian children by/to Russia

RUSSIA/ UKRAINE: Ukrainian children un search of a way home from Russia/ HRWF Report submitted to the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child (15 December 2023) – See UN Website: bit.ly/3Rz46iu

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8 May 2023

Andriy Yermak in meetings to discuss return of Ukrainian children illegally deported by Russia


Photo: Bohdan Yermokhin spent about 1 1/2 years in foster care against his will in Russia before his release was secured on his 18th birthday following Ukrainian and international intervention (Photo: RFE/RL)