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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Ukrainian teenager taken by Russians contemplates suicide after solitary confinement World News


Last October, Tatiana Rudenko left her home in southern Ukraine to attend her mother’s funeral.

While she was out, armed Russian men wearing balaclavas arrived and ordered her 17-year-old son Vlad to go with them.

He refused at first, but then realized he had no choice.

“They carried weapons with them. I knew everything could go bad. So I packed up and went with them. It’s best not to mess with them,” he told Sky News.

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It was the start of eight months spent at Russian hands – in a camp on Russian-controlled territory, separated from his family, his home and everything he knew and trusted.

Tatiana was ecstatic.

“Because of the tragedy we just had, he wasn’t allowed to leave. I was so angry when I found out he was gone,” she said.

“I miss him and worry about him, especially when there is no contact, the connection is cut off. I worry and miss my son very much.”

Vlad’s new life was one instilled by the Russians.

In the photos he sent to his mother from camp after camp, he began to change. They showed him brandishing a gun and punching. He had never played any sport before.

Vlad’s mother says his personality appears to have changed during concentration camp

But there were more worrying signs, including injuries, broken legs and broken fingers.

He said they were mentally and physically abused and he was punished when he tried to leave.

“I felt bad because I didn’t like where I was, I was interrogated and asked why I left and I said I wanted to go back to Ukraine,” he said.

“Cash and apartments become Russian”

He said the Russians held Vlad in solitary confinement at a time when he contemplated suicide.

“It was difficult. Not speaking to anyone for five days.

Vlad was put in body armor and taken from his home

The teenager said he suffered physical and emotional abuse

“All you see is someone bringing you food and you sit and think about what to do. You’re just on your own, you can’t hear anything, it’s like you’re deaf, and I’m thinking about killing myself.”

The camps are located in Russian-controlled Crimea and the occupied Kherson region.

Vlad said the children were told there Ukraine The group was run by Nazis whose families did not want them home and offered them incentives – including the promise of cash and apartments – to aspire to Russian citizenship.

They were asked to sing the Russian national anthem.

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Russia claims they save children from war for humanitarian reasons.

They said they intended to return children evacuated from the conflict zone to Ukraine when conditions there were safe enough.

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They said children being “forcibly brought to Russia” was a “completely overblown” problem.

After returning home, Tatiana sought help from NGOs. Together with several mothers, she planned the “Save Ukraine” campaign to find ways to bring their children back.

Mum interrogated after rescue mission

In order to rescue Vlad, Tetiana set off from Ukraine to Poland, then Belarus, then to Moscow, and overland Russia into occupied Ukraine.

After traveling thousands of miles and over a week, she was finally reunited with her son. She recalls that moment.

Vlad posted this photo of the open road when he finally got home

Vlad is now enjoying time at home with his brother Costia

“Tears, tears. I cried. I just held him and cried. I didn’t have any other emotions, just tears coming out of my eyes,” she said.

But her ordeal wasn’t over: The Russians held Tatiana for six days, interrogated her for ten hours, and even put a bag over her head, keeping her in constant torment.

“Every time I think about it, I just want to forget it, it’s like a nightmare that never happened. I have so many different thoughts.

“I was worried that they might take me and I would never come back, and I was worried that I would never see any of my children again, not just Vlad,” she said.

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Ukraine announced on Friday first charge Thousands of children were allegedly deported to Russia.

Two collaborators have also been charged over the incident, which allegedly involved 48 orphans, aged between one and four, who were taken from the Kherson Children’s Home.

Their exact location is unclear, but prosecutors say they may have been adopted illegally or taken to a Russian institution.

Authorities shared a video that allegedly showed a suspect helping to get the children onto a bus marked with a pro-Russian “Z” symbol.

The suspects, whose names were redacted in the document, are believed to be in Russia or Crimea, but the trial could take place in their absence.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow “categorically denies” the child abduction allegations.

“Our troops risked their lives many times to take steps to save children from shelling, which, incidentally, was carried out by the Ukrainian Armed Forces against civilian infrastructure,” he said.

Eventually, the Russians let the two go and made the long journey back to Ukraine.

They are now stuck in Kiev and it is too dangerous to go home due to the Russian shelling.

But Tatiana’s worries weren’t over.

She said Vlad’s eight months in a Russian concentration camp had changed him, and he couldn’t say what had happened.

“It pains me deeply that I’ve come this far and he’s pushing me away. I’m offended.

“But I understand him, and as a mother, I forgive him because I don’t know the whole truth about what happened to him. Maybe he did it because he wanted to protect me,” she said.

Tatiana worries about her son not telling her about his experiences in Russia

The NGO that helped Tetiana bring Vlad back said others who remained were being turned into young Russians to help in the war on Ukraine.

Mikolo Kouleba from Save Ukraine told Sky News: “The worst thing is that these kids will grow up hating Ukraine.

“They’re going to grow up and get Russian citizenship and fight Ukraine knowing that Ukraine is the enemy, and I’m very concerned that we’re going to lose thousands or hundreds of thousands of children brainwashed by Russia.”

This is a limited version of the story, so unfortunately this content is not available.

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Vlad may have returned to Ukrainian soil, but the trauma inflicted by the Russians remains with him and his mother.

Through occupied Ukraine, deep into Russia, there are many others like him who have yet to come home, and may never come home.

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call 116 123 or email The Samaritans for help jo@samaritans.org in England. In the US, call the Samaritans chapter in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.


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