Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Kira Obedinsky was a happy and beloved 12-year-old girl. Orphaned, injured and alone in a Russian-controlled hospital in eastern Ukraine, she has become a target of Russian propaganda against her will.
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Kira Obedinsky’s mother died when she was a baby. His father Yevhen Obedinsky, a former captain of Ukraine’s national water polo team, was shot dead when Russian troops entered Mariupol in the south-east of the country on March 17.
Yevhen Obedinsky | Screenshot | CNN
A few days later, Kira and her father’s friend tried to flee the city on foot along with neighbors. But little Kira was injured in a mine explosion. She was taken to a hospital in the Donetsk region controlled by Moscow-backed Russian separatists, CNN reports.
Her grandfather Oleksander fears he will never see her again. He said he received a call from a pro-Russian government official in Donetsk inviting him to travel there to visit his granddaughter, a trip made impossible because of the threat of war.
He learned that little Kira would eventually be sent to an orphanage in Russia.
Ukrainian, American and independent human rights advocates have also claimed that Russian and separatist forces are processing tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians in so-called “filtration camps” where they undergo biometric screening. Their phones and documents will be confiscated before being sent to Russia.
Kira and her grandfather | Screenshot | CNN
According to Kira’s grandfather, the Russians also took his documents.
Russian media, which have repeatedly downplayed the brutality of the conflict in Ukraine, showed a video of Kira cheerfully talking about what she is sometimes allowed to call her grandfather.
According to a Russian TV presenter, this is “proof” that she was not kidnapped. Her grandfather received an audio message from Kira telling him not to cry. But the young girl who lost her family, her freedom and her home in the Russian war cannot hold back her own tears.
“It’s been so long since I’ve seen you, I want to cry.”
Screenshot | CNN
The Russian government said it brought at least 60,000 Ukrainians to Russia. According to the Ukrainian government, 40,000 people have been displaced against their will in what is described as kidnapping and forced eviction.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said more than 433,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Russia since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of forcing people to flee Mariupol to Russia, he said in an interview with CNN.
“Several thousand, tens of thousands had to evacuate towards the Russian Federation and we don’t know where they are, they didn’t leave any traces,” Zelenskyy said.
“And among them are several thousand children, we want to know what happened to them. If they are healthy. Unfortunately, there is simply no information about it.”