More than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been brought to Russia since the February 24, 2022 invasion, Kyiv says


  • One girl at Camp Mechta in Crimea was reportedly beaten with an iron stick by Russian security personnel
  • Children at Camp Druzhba were given dirty mattresses for bedding
  • Children who showed disobedience were locked in a basement for hours as punishement

Ukrainian children who were forcibly deported to Russia have accused Moscow of abusing them, especially those who support Ukraine amid the 13-month war, according to a report.

Speaking to the independent online newspaper The Insider, 16-year-old Vitaly said he witnessed one girl get physically assaulted with an iron stick by Russian security personnel while staying at Camp Mechta, which translated to "Dream," in the city of Yevpatoria in Crimea.

"Astakhov, who is in charge of security, was the one who wielded the iron stick. He acted as if he was the tsar there. He told us, 'You're from Ukraine, who needs you? We'll take you to a boarding school, you'll spend time there, and you'll understand everything.' One girl was hit on the back with the iron stick, resulting in a visible striped bruise," he said.

Vitaly also said other children were taken away after they shouted "Glory to Ukraine" while in the hall. It is unclear where the children were taken to and what happened to them after the incident.

All children detained at Camp Mechta were later transferred to Camp Druzhba, which translates to "Friendship," where the living conditions were even worse. The children who lived at the camp were given dirty mattresses for bedding. Those who showed disobedience were also locked in a basement for hours as punishment.

"There were no bedclothes, only a pillow and a dirty mattress. Not in the basement, in the rooms. We bought a light bulb ourselves and screwed it in so there was at least some light. There were no power sockets in the room either," Vitaly said. "They made us sing the Russian anthem, hold the Russian flag, raise it on the flagpole, but we didn't do that. We were kept in the basement."

The outlet also interviewed other children who were kept in Russian camps. While not all interviewees spoke of abuse, they all complained of poor living conditions and substandard food in captivity.

According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as many as 16,000 children in his country have been forcibly deported by the Russian army in the war. The actual figure, however, could be much higher.

Mental health specialists say Ukrainian parents can fear talking about the war will exacerbate their children's trauma