Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica: International community must do everything to return Ukrainian children kidnapped by Russia


It is the responsibility of the international community to do everything to find and return the Ukrainian children kidnapped by Russia to their homeland,” said Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Deputy Speaker of the Saeima, Head of the Latvian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting with representatives of the Ukrainian PACE delegation on Thursday, 25 May.

Z.Kalniņa-Lukaševica met with the Head of the Ukrainian Delegation, the Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, Mariia Mezentseva, and the Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, Yevheniia Kravchuk.

Russia illegally relocates Ukrainian children, as well as forcibly places them in Russian foster families and camps in Russia and its occupied territories. The participants of the meeting emphasised that only a small proportion of children have managed to return to their relatives so far.

“Latvia took over the leadership of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe last week, and during our Presidency the issue of returning the children abducted by Russia will be an important priority. It is the Council of Europe and the Assembly that can call on the Red Cross and the UN Refugee Agency to make every effort to find and return the children. These two international organisations are present in Russia,” said Z.Kalniņa-Lukaševica.

The Assembly is the first organisation that, at its April session, unanimously adopted a resolution on the deportations of Ukrainian children, stressing that it was a crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 UN Convention. 

Parliamentarians also discussed the decision taken at the Council of Europe Reykjavik Summit on the establishment of a Damage Registry, to account for the amount of reparations that Russia will pay for its brutal and unjustifiable war against Ukraine. They also discussed the question of establishing a compensation mechanism that would allow the frozen Russian financial resources to be redirected to Ukraine’s reconstruction.

Z.Kalniņa-Lukaševica emphasised that Ukraine can count on continued support from Latvia. Russia must be held accountable for the crimes of aggression in Ukraine, which requires the establishment of an ad hoc international tribunal.

Ukrainian parliamentarians thanked Latvia for its substantial support to Ukraine.

The Deputy Speaker of the Saeima together with the delegation visited the Ukrainian Support Centre in Riga, as well as met with the Mayor of Riga Mārtiņš Staķis. The delegation also met with representatives of non-governmental organisations actively supporting Ukraine.


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