- On Tuesday, Belarusian state news agency Belta posted a photo of some of the 48 children who had arrived in Belarus for a three-week visit from the Donbas.1
- The Donbas is the collective name for the Russian-occupied regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, which Moscow claimed to have annexed last year, along with the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.1
- The charity that transported the children was founded by quadriplegic Paralympian and motivational speaker Aleksei Talai, who said that a range of cultural, sports and recreational activities have been prepared for the trip. He added that the visit will provide 'opportunity' for the children to 'recuperate and holiday.'2
- However, Western media linked the trip to allegations from opposition Belarusian figures that the country had forcibly removed upwards of 2.1K children from Ukraine with Pres. Alexander Lukashenko's approval. They said evidence had been provided to the International Criminal Court (ICC).3
- The reports came as Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska — speaking at a sideline event of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday — said that more than 19K Ukrainian children had been forcibly transferred or deported to Russia, where she said they are told 'that their parents don’t need them, that their country doesn’t need them.'4
- However, Russia maintains that the children were not forcibly removed, but rather evacuated with the consent of their parents and in line with international humanitarian law. Moscow also stated that, in a minority of cases, orphans were transferred to Russia and placed with guardians, but that this was only a temporary measure.5
- Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Associated press. Almost 50 children were removed from Ukraine and taken to Belarus. It is not clear if parents gave their permission for their children to make the journey and it seems that this is linked to allegations that Belarus is engaging in the same practice of forcible transfers as Russia.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Sb. This is a charitable program aimed at giving children living in a war zone time to get away and relax while enjoying a range of cultural and recreational events. Belarus is proud to give this type of support despite Western attempts to make it out to be something more sinister.