Murmansk brings 230 kids from Ukrainian "friendship town" to Russia
The children will be sent to holiday resorts in the Russian Krasnodar region, Murmansk Minister of Education Diana Kuznetsova explained to local media.
“Vacation packages to will be provided free of charge [and] more than 230 people have already applied,” she said.
During her stay in the area, Kuznetsova visited kindergartens, schools and colleges not only in Primorsk town, but also in nearby Mariupol, Berdyansk and 13 local villages, the Murmansk Ministry of Education informs.
The minister from the far northern Russian city is in the occupied Ukrainian municipality to follow up her region’s patronage for the area. She arrived to town only few days after Murmansk Governor Andrei Chibis.
“We will help Primorsk with everything that it needs,” Chibis assured during his recent visit.
The governor, who is known for wearing clothes marked with the “Z,” the symbol of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, paid visits to key local institutions, among them a school and a healthcare and community centre.
The children from Primorsk will reportedly only be on summer vacation in Russia. But Andrei Chibis and his Murmansk region is known for bringing Ukrainian kids to Russia also with other purposes.
In December 2022, the north Russian governor was put on the EU’s sanctions list for deporting Ukrainian kids to his region.
According to the decision by the European Council, Chibis was “involved in the illegal transportation of Ukrainian children to Russia and their adoption by Russian families.” Also Norway soon joined the sanctions against the regional leader.
The first Ukrainian children arrived in Murmansk in September 2022, and in January 2023 the region’s ombudswoman for children Alevtina Andreeva confirmed that at least 125 kids had been adopted by Russian families. Many of them are believed to have lived in orphanages in areas occupied by Russia, others were taken against the will of their parents.
Andreeva has over the past months repeatedly visited the kids and their Russian foster families together with representatives of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Murmansk region.
Like many other Russian regions, Murmansk has been requested by Moscow to take patronage for occupied Ukrainian towns. Primorsk is located on the Azov Sea coast, only few kilometers away from the port town of Berdyansk. A bit further to the east is Mariupol.
The visits of Chibis, Kuznetsova and other representatives from Murmansk come as Ukraine is launching its long-awaited counteroffensive against Russian occupation forces in the region, and pressure against towns like Primorsk is expected to significantly increase over the coming weeks.
Murmansk itself has troops from its regional brigades in the area, and Andrei Chibis paid a visit to some of them during his visit.
“For a long time, I talked with them about their families, about the support from the country and about how we are waiting for victory,” the governor said about his meeting with the soldiers.
The growing pressure against Primorsk is illustrated by an attack against Chechen politician Adam Delimkhanov. According to multiple news reports, among them Novaya Gazeta Europa, the controversial member of the State Duma and close ally of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov was on Wednesday 14th of June injured in an attack on Primorsk. Several of the reports indicate that Delimkhanov might have been killed in the attack.