13th Apr 2024


New EU sanctions: Lukashenko also stealing Ukraine's children

  • Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko (l) already under pressure to join Russian president Vladimir Putin (r) on The Hague's wanted list (Photo:
Listen to article

The EU is putting Belarusian child-abductors on its Russia blacklist, boosting calls for an international arrest warrant against Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.

Dmitriy Demidov, a municipal chief in the Vitebsk region of Belarus, was one of the "key persons involved in the forcible deportation of Ukrainian children to Belarus and their subsequent illegal adoption by Russian and Belarusian families", said a draft blacklist seen by EUobserver on Wednesday (14 February).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Three other Belarusians named for child deportations — Dzmitry Shautsou, Aleksey Talai, and Olga Volkova — operated at arm's length from Lukashenko's regime.

Shautsou was general director of the Belarus Red Cross, but personally visited "children from Ukraine in both Belarus and Russia-occupied Ukraine, wearing pro-Russia military apparel," the EU said.

Talai founded the "Charitable Foundation Aleksey Talai", in which abducted Ukrainian "children are forced to attend educational programs which are actively supporting Russian state propaganda, publicly denying Ukraine's right to statehood", the EU said.

Volkova was head of a pseudo-NGO called Delfini, which "ideologically indoctrinated" Ukrainian kids, the EU added.

And Talai's charity and Volkova's NGO were also to be blacklisted for good measure.

Lukashenko's regime was accused of taking over 2,400 Ukrainian children to 13 facilities in Belarus in a study by Yale University in the US in November.

Exiled Belarusian dissident Pavel Latushka also filed evidence on Lukashenko's role in the programme with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague at the same time.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant against Russian president Vladimir Putin in March last year for child abductions, amid Ukrainian estimates that Russia has taken some 20,000 of its minors from occupied territories.

Lukashenko and Putin were both under an EU visa ban for other crimes anyway.

But an ICC warrant would curb Lukashenko's movement in the 123 ICC-signatory countries worldwide, as it has done Putin's — in case a host leader ever arrested one of them while they were travelling overseas.

The Belarusians were to be added to the EU's 13th round of Russia sanctions, due to be adopted by EU foreign ministers in Brussels on 19 February.

The EU originally proposed adding 118 individuals and entities to the 13th list, including Russian firms trafficking North Korean weapons to the Ukrainian battlefield.

But it has now topped up its proposal with a further 43 more individuals and 32 entities.

North Korea

Most of these are Russian arms firms, their bosses, and small-time Russian officials, some of whom were likewise cited for Ukrainian child-abduction.

The top-up list also included North Korean defence minister Kang Sun Nam and North Korea's Missile General Bureau, which makes ballistic missiles.

If adopted in its current form, the 13th round will bring to 2,143 the number of mostly Russian individuals and entities under EU visa-bans and asset-freezes over the Ukraine war.

It will also add firms from China, India, and Turkey to an ever-longer grey-list of companies helping Russia to circumvent EU sanctions.

Entities on the grey-list are banned from buying EU dual-use technology that is forbidden to be exported to Russia.

The EU has also frozen over €320bn of Russian assets and banned €135bn in trade in a bid to weaken Putin's war effort over the past two years.

Lost souls

Meanwhile, its latest top-up proposal also included blacklisting Inna Varlamova — the 56-year-old wife of a Putin-loyalist Russian MP (Sergei Mironov), whose draft EU citation told the story of two lost Ukrainian souls.

Varlamova personally travelled to the Russia-occupied Kherson region in Ukraine and came home with two Ukrainian children, the EU said.

"Together with her husband, Varlamova adopted a child who was kidnapped from an orphanage in Kherson," the EU list said.

This child's "last name was changed to Mironova and her place of birth was changed to Podolsk, Russia, instead of Kherson, Ukraine", the EU said.

It didn't mention what happened to the other child.


How Western machinery is helping Russia kill Ukrainians

Russia's missile production capacities have been supercharged thanks to Western machinery. Despite European sanctions having been in place since 2014, many European companies have turned a blind eye to exports of valuable technology to Russian military factories.

Belarus 'war' comments prompt EU rebuke

The EU is equipping itself to face down threats coming from Belarus and Russia, following fresh comments that Minsk wants no conflict but is still preparing for war.

Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist

Hungary failed to get three Russian and three Chinese names deleted, as the EU approved its 13th package of sanctions ahead of an anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.


EU should use 'all means' to end war in Gaza: Belgian minister

The EU should use "all means" possible to end the violence in Gaza, including sanctions, a peace conference, and a review of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, Belgian development cooperation minister Caroline Gennez told EUobserver.


The Bolsonaro-Orbán far-right nexus

Defeated far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has given various reasons for sheltering at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia — none of them make sense.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us