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"Russian teenagers told me that Ukraine attacked first": the story of 17-year-old Valeria, who was returned home after being abducted to Russia

Maria ShevchukSociety
Valeria shared her story with the Voices of the Peaceful Museum of Rinat Akhmetov Foundation during her vacation and psychological rehabilitation. Source: press service

Valeria is 17 years old and recently managed to return home. To Ukraine - from the hostile Belgorod, where she was illegally taken from the occupied Luhansk region. Valeria shared her story with the Voices of the Peaceful Museum of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation during the winter shift of the Blogger Camp as part of the project "Rinat Akhmetov for Children. Peaceful vacation for children of Ukraine".

The girl studied in the 9th grade in Lysychansk. She was engaged in athletics, journalism and studied English. At the beginning of the full-scale war, she moved to her grandmother's village, and this decision changed everything. The village was occupied by Russians.

"Everyone thought it would end very quickly... My mother could not get to the occupied territory to take me out. It was very difficult to be under occupation - under the laws of the Russian Federation, with people who did terrible things," Valeria recalls.

The girl did not find herself in Belgorod by choice. At the local college, she was not welcome with a Ukrainian passport and certificate. She often heard her classmates say things about Ukraine like "you're over there, under us."

"They said that it was Ukraine that attacked Russia, that we were all being deceived. They are brainwashed, absolutely all of them... The first time I ran away from the dormitory, I said I was going to my grandmother's house. And I got to the border with Latvia. But the Russians did not let me out. If they found out about it, I would have had big problems," says Valeria.

Her story about returning home and meeting her mother, for which she had been waiting for a year and a half, will be included in the Museum "Voices of the Civilians" of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation, which has collected more than 100,000 first-hand stories of Ukrainian civilians about the war.

The Foundation's Blogger Camp winter session was special this year - the camp in Zakarpattia provided rest, rehabilitation and psychological rehabilitation for the boys and girls who were illegally taken to Russia and managed to return home. The Rinat Akhmetov Foundation in cooperation with the Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights was the first to provide comprehensive assistance to these children and teenagers.

Tell your story about the war on the Museum's portal or on the free hotline 0 (800) 509 001.

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