People story


Story 25: Ihor

A 15-year-old Ihor and his mother Natalia lived in Kherson before Russia’s full-scale war. 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 the city to Ukraine-controlled territory. The family stayed in Kherson through the whole occupation, but one day, Ihor, together with his cousin, were deported to a re-education camp in Russia. 

Russian occupants insidiously offered Natalia to send Ihor to Anapa for a couple of weeks — supposedly “for recovery”. They used manipulation and brainwashing to persuade Natalia. She agreed eventually and signed the documents, being reassured that her son Ihor would be away only for three weeks. 

The teen, together with his cousin, and other children from Kherson were taken by buses and trains to Anapa, Russia. They settled in a summer camp, but after three weeks, the children remained there and no-one talked about sending them back to Ukraine (then temporarily occupied Kherson). As Ihor says, 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 Ukrainian government and volunteers. 


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