Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy has imposed sanctions on 37 Russian entities and 108 individuals, including a former prime minister and a former education minister aimed at battling the abductions of children and other forms of what he termed as “Russian terror”. In his address, he remarked, “We are intensifying the pressure of our state on them, and each of them must be held accountable for their actions,” following the issuance of corresponding decrees from his office bearing his signature.
While Zelenskyy did not explicitly link the names of specific individuals or groups engaged in particular wrongdoing, the order outlined penalties of up to ten years for individuals and five years for non-profit groups, including one referred to in English as the “Russian Children’s Foundation.”
He noted that the list encompassed “those involved in the abduction and expulsion of Ukrainian children from the occupied territory” and individuals who “in various ways assist Russian terror against Ukraine.”
The newly sanctioned individuals included many holding Russian citizenship, who had previously faced separate or similar penalties. Among those sanctioned were Dmytro Tabachnyk, a former minister of education and science who had his Ukrainian citizenship revoked in February, and ex-Prime Minister Mykola Azarov.
Previously, along with former President Viktor Yanukovich, Azarov had experienced asset freezes and property seizures, among other penalties. The two men fled to Russia in 2014 following a crackdown on street protests that resulted in the deaths of over 100 demonstrators in Kyiv.
Other individuals penalised on Saturday included Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-appointed leader of Crimea, and Leonid Pasechnik, whom Putin appointed as head of Luhansk, the eastern Ukrainian region annexed by Russia in 2022.
The sanctioned Russian entities encompassed several whose names or websites suggest involvement with children.
One such sanctioned group was Kvartal Lui, corresponding to an organisation whose website states its founder is Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, who herself was subjected to sanctions by Kyiv in October 2022.
This month, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant against Lvova-Belova, alongside President Vladimir Putin, and accused them of the war crime of forcibly displacing children from Ukraine.
Zelenskyy’s new list also included sanctions against the executive director of Kvartal Lui, Sofia Lvova-Belova. Her elder sister, Maria Lvova-Belova, has asserted that children were relocated to shield them from violence and denied any involvement in committing a war crime.
Kyiv has alleged that around 20,000 children have been transported to Russia or Russian-held territories without the consent of their families or guardians, an act it deems a war crime meeting the UN treaty definition of genocide.