A Ukrainian teenager who was forcibly deported from his occupied home town of Mariupol to Russia last year, has been called up to serve in the Russian army, according to his lawyer Kateryna Bobrovska, who spoke to Ukrainian independent website Grati.
Bobrovska said that Bohdan Yermokhin, 17, had been instructed to report to the military enlistment office in December when he turns 18. “I no longer have any doubt about Russia’s plans. Bohdan turns 18 in three weeks. He will be an adult, and will most likely be sent to serve in the Russian army,” Bobrovska said.
Bohdan Yermokhin. Photo: Vesti
Yermokhin’s official guardian in Russia, Irina Rudnitskaya confirmed he had received the letter but said that it had just been for data collection purposes. “He’s a student and gets a deferment. And conscripts don’t serve in the special military operation, anyway,” Rudnitskaya said.
According to Grati, Yermokhin was just one of dozens of children forcibly removed from occupied Mariupol to Moscow by the Russian military and placed in foster families last year. In April, Maria Lvova-Belova, the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights, said Yermokhin had attempted to return to Ukraine via Belarus, but had been detained by the security services. Bobrovska said that he had now made numerous unsuccessful attempts to go home.
Yermokhin is an orphan whose legal guardian is his sister who lives in Ukraine. The family’s lawyer has appealed to Lvova-Belova and the Russian Commissioner for Human Rights, Tatyana Moskalkova, to allow him to return to Ukraine, but the Russian authorities have not done so.
In March, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lvova-Belova for the illegal deportation of over 700,000 Ukrainian children.