Kyiv has called for the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for the head of the Belarusian Red Cross Society, after he admitted his organization was involved in the removal of children from Ukraine for so-called “health improvement” purposes.

In an interview filmed in the Russian-held Ukrainian city of Lysychansk and broadcast on Belarusian TV on Wednesday, Dmitry Shevtsov said he was upset at accusations that his country was involved in the kidnapping of children, insisting Minsk was helping them to escape from and deal with the trauma of war.

The Belarusian Red Cross claimed in June that it had “rescued” more than 700 Ukrainian children, according to the state-owned national news agency Belta, as part of a project jointly funded by Moscow and Minsk. 


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Wednesday distanced itself from its Belarus branch and said an investigation into the claims had been launched.

Dymytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs demanded that the International Criminal Court (ICC) should issue an arrest warrant for Shevtsov, saying he had “publicly confessed to the crime of unlawful deportation of children from occupied areas of Ukraine.”

In the interview, Shevtsov said: “I was outraged to the core by the fact that people, I think, are inflamed to the best of their thoughts, or they think that it is logical to do so when they accused Belarus of kidnapping children. 

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“… I cannot allow damage to the image of either the country, or the Belarusian Red Cross, or the entire Red Cross and Red Crescent movement in the world, which stands for the protection of human values, saving lives, helping those in need, no matter who it is. We help everyone who needs help.”

On an earlier trip to the occupied Ukrainian territories, Shevtsov was pictured wearing camouflage clothing bearing the pro-Russian “Z” logo, in contravention of the the Red Cross charter which requires members of the organization to remain neutral.


The admission comes after demands by members of the European Parliament for the ICC to issue an arrest warrant against Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus for his part in helping Russia wage war in Ukraine and for involvement in the forcible deportation of Ukrainian children. 

The entire 30-minute Belarus-1 news report was taken up with supporting Shetsov’s denials of any abduction, with coverage by its correspondents of the Talai humanitarian foundation in Lysychansk and Mariupol where they interviewed the parents of children who had been taken to Belarus and later with some of the children themselves who all claimed to be “happy.”

The report said that Lukashenko and Aleksey Talai, the founder of the humanitarian organization named after him, were indignant at accusations of “stealing children from Donbass,” with the presenter saying: “Belarus is trying to fill their lives with at least a little joy and warmth, for which has been especially lacking lately. They say we steal, we donate organs and eat them, and don’t return them home.”


A spokesman for the Belarus opposition Pavel Latushko, is reported as claiming that a number of the Ukrainian children reported to be in Belarus have actually been taken to the Russian Federation after which their whereabouts are unknown.

“The latest data we have is … they’ve disappeared, their trail’s gone cold on the territory of the Russian Federation. We can’t report information on where they are currently,” he said, according to Novaya Gazeta.

ICC arrest warrants have already been issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for their role in taking children from Ukraine. 

Illegally removing children without their or their parent’s or their guardian’s consent during times of war constitutes one of six grave violations against children as defined by the United Nations Security Council. In some cases, such actions are in breach of the Geneva Conventions and can amount to war crimes.

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