On the instructions of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak held a series of meetings with ambassadors of the United24 fundraising platform, famous actors, film directors, and producers. They talked about how to facilitate the return of Ukrainian children illegally deported by Russia to their homeland, and how to support the unity of the world community around Ukraine.
In particular, meetings with the French film director, Michel Hazanavicius, the American actress from Ukraine, Ivanna Sakhno, the Canadian actress, Katheryn Winnick, the American actor, director and producer, Liev Schreiber, and the British documentary film-maker, André Singer, were held.
The head of the Office of the President said that global unity plays a decisive role in returning Ukrainian children from Russia, the same as in fighting against the aggressor state on the battlefield.
“The unity of the world community is as powerful a weapon as HIMARS and Patriot. We continue looking for opportunities and instruments with which we can return our children deported by Russia from the occupied territories of Ukraine. That is why it is so important to tell the world about this problem so that people in Europe and America remember that this terrible war continues and the smallest suffer from it,” Yermak said.
As the head of the Office of the President said, this problem has several aspects. The first category of children is those, who have parents, and the occupiers took them from their parents and illegally brought them to the territory of Russia under the pretext of rehabilitation and did not return. The second category is minor citizens of Ukraine who lost their parents but have a grandmother, grandfather, aunt, or uncle. The occupiers do not return the children to their relatives but allow their adoption on the territory of the Russian Federation. The most difficult third category is children illegally taken out by the Russians from orphanages located in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. They are the hardest to identify, as the invaders often destroy the children’s documents and change their names and nationalities when they are adopted by the Russians.
Yermak said there is still no effective mechanism in the world that would help return Ukrainian children to their homeland. That is why President Volodymyr Zelenskyy set a task: with the involvement of all relevant ministers, the Ombudsman, and the Prosecutor General’s Office, to develop a step-by-step action program for cooperation with international organizations, the media, and public figures in order to return our children from Russia.
“One of such effective steps can be the involvement of stars who, at various international venues: at film festivals, at the presentations of music and film awards, will talk about the crimes that Russia commits against Ukrainian children, depriving them of their homeland, national identity, native language, etc. So that the international community pressures the Russian Federation and demands to return the little Ukrainians home,” Yermak said, adding that many famous personalities have already agreed to help in this.
For her part, Ivanna Sakhno said that she is well aware of the problem of Ukrainian children’s deportation by Russia. She supported the idea that people on various public platforms, including in the U.S. Congress, should highlight this problem and draw the attention of the American people to it.
Katheryn Winnick said: if she had not had the opportunity to study Ukrainian traditions and the Ukrainian language in Canada, she would not have known her roots and would not be in Ukraine today. “If you’re counting on my help, I’m on your side one hundred percent,” she said.
Yermak also emphasized the importance of spreading the true information about the events in Ukraine in the world because Russian propaganda continues working, in particular, in the countries of the Global South, which support our country needs very much.
According to the head of the President’s Office, it is possible to talk about Ukraine through the stories of ordinary Ukrainians who performed truly heroic deeds during this full-scale war. This is, in particular, the story of the Azovstal defenders and the heroic defense of Kyiv region, Kharkiv region, and other regions, or the story of a gymnast girl who lost her leg due to Russian shelling but continued training and preparing for competitions.
“Nowadays, everyone in the world knows about Ukraine. And, of course, people will be interested to learn more about our country, our history. Even now, foreign directors are looking for such stories in Ukraine, and we, as the government, are ready to help in every possible way. In addition, we have talented directors, actors, and excellent opportunities to build a film industry here in the future, when we will recover,” Yermak said.
“It was very important to continue supporting the unity of the world community around Ukraine. We still lack weapons. And it is very important for our people to know that the world remembers Ukraine and does not stop in its help. This gives us strength and makes us ready for the fight and victory, which we are sure of,” the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine said.