People story


Story 25: Ihor

Fifteen-year-old Ihor and his mother, Natalia, lived in Kherson city. When Russia’s full-scale war broke out, the woman tried to drive her child out of the city, but all the roads were blocked by Russian soldiers. It was impossible to leave Kherson for Ukraine-controlled territory. The family had no choice but to stay in the city throughout the entire occupation. 


In late August 2022, Russian occupants cunningly offered Natalia the option to send Ihor to a recreation camp for children in Anapa, Russia, for a couple of weeks. They used manipulation and brainwashing to persuade her. Eventually, she agreed and signed the documents, reassured that her son would be away for only three weeks. 


Ihor, along with his cousin and other children from Kherson city, were taken by buses and trains to Anapa. They settled in a summer camp, but after three weeks, the children remained there, with no discussion of sending them back to Ukraine (then temporarily occupied Kherson). As Ihor said, he was used as a hostage. Russian authorities attempted to permanently separate him from his mother and Ukraine through psychological and educational work.


After spending three months in Russia, Ihor was returned to de-occupied Kherson, thanks to the Ukrainian government and volunteers. 


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