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To protect Ukrainian orphans or to take them away?

December 24, 2022, 12:25 88 Author: Валерія Чепурко deti.zp.ua Two versions of the scandal with refugees in Poland.

Two versions of the scandal with refugees in Poland

A scandal is developing in Poland, which is not being talked about publicly in Ukraine. It is about the fate of the pupils of the family-type children's home from Synelnikovo (Dnipropetrovsk region). Their mother-educator - 52-year-old Svitlana has been under arrest since April this year and is awaiting trial in the city of Poznan, where she came with her children, fleeing the war.

The suspicions brought against the woman are terrifying: selling children to pedophiles, involving them in prostitution, especially cruel moral and physical abuse.

Polish Gazeta Wyborcza claims that Ukrainian officials now want to take the children to Ukraine, despite the war, to replace have a difficult history. We tried to understand what is really happening.

Shocking revelations

Svitlana and her ten children aged 4 to 16 came to Poznan in March of this year. Polish legislation does not recognize the establishment of family-type children's homes and foster families by decision of the guardianship authority, as is done in Ukraine. Special family courts decide the fate of children without biological parents. Therefore, with the beginning of the war, when waves of refugees from among orphans rushed to Poland, Polish temporary guardians began to be appointed to them by court.

This is what happened to the orphanage from Synelnikovo. A married couple from Poznan was appointed to help Svetlana. And in April 2022, representatives of the police and the prosecutor's office came to the mother-educator.

It turned out that one of Svitlana's the daughterstold the Polish guardians how cruelly the children were abused by the foster mother. Later, this was confirmed by other children during interrogations at the prosecutor's office in the presence of a psychologist.

The investigation materials allegedly contain evidence that in Ukraine and even in Poland, until April 8, the suspect sold children to pedophiles, having previously pumped them with drugs that relax muscles, in particular of the genitals.

One of the girls said that she was raped when she was in the first grade. At the same time, the men held her by the hair, and the adoptive mother looked at the clock to see if the 20 minutes allotted for shopping had passed.

Also, in the charges, the prosecutor's office allegedly writes that Svitlana beat the children with fists, a belt, and a frying pan, forced them to eat dog feces, put a urine-contaminated diaper in the children's mouths, and also starved the children.

According to Polish mass media, Svitlana is currently in custody.

Letter from the consul

Note that in many cases the Gazeta Wyborcza journalist refers to his informants, but there is also an official comment.

The press secretary of the Poznan Prosecutor's Office, Lukas Wawzyniak, confirmed that the children were questioned in the family court in the presence of psychologists, the testimony was documented, and this may be enough to start a trial against the adoptive mother.

- Children remain witnesses and victims, but they will not have to testify again during the trial, - said Lukash Vavzyniak.

The speaker also noted that the prosecutor's office has other strong evidence. In particular, the conclusion of the forensic medical expert, who recorded traces of beatings and confirmed that the children were malnourished.

The first publication about the incident related to the Ukrainian family-type house was published in October of this year. The publication was forced to return to the topic by a letter sent to the Poznan Prosecutor's Office by the Consul General of Ukraine in Wroclaw.

Yuriy Tokar. "The consul sends a bow to the prosecutor's office, and then asks for permission to visit the arrested woman and the children she was taking care of. But first of all, it contains a decision on "the return of foster children to Ukraine," writes Gazeta Wyborcza.

In the same letter, it is said that the Synelnikove City Council has already appointed a new guardian for the boys and girls - a representative of the social service, who supervised a family-type orphanage in Ukraine and did not notice what was happening there. The new guardian is allegedly going to visit Poland, see the orphans and complete the formalities related to their return to their homeland.

Currently, some of the children live with temporary Polish guardians. "Gazeta Wyborcza" believes that Ukrainian officials want to take the children from safety back to the war only to cover up the scandal. The children themselves do not want to go. Being isolated from Svitlana, they underwent psychological and physical rehabilitation in Poland, got used to the new environment and feel much better. One of the boys allegedly even asked not to speak to him in Russian or Ukrainian, because it causes negative memories. "I want to communicate only in Polish," the newspaper reports the child's words.

«We also collected documents»

A few times they wrote “nibito”, because the publication in “Gazeta Wyborcza” shows one coin of the medal. The other - Ukrainian - do not believe that all this could happen.

– We didn’t have anything like that. Beautiful family, beautiful children, Svitlana works like a master of over 20 years. We collected characteristics from educational institutions, clubs attended by children.The police interviewed Svitlana's neighbors, doctors who had been observing the boys gave their conclusions. No one said a word bad about Svitlana, no one suspected that she mistreated the children. This is all documented, - said the head of the service at the right of the children of the city for the sake of Sinelnikova Natalia Sitalo.

For її words, the Ukrainian side does not intrude, so that the children of negaino turn to our territory.

- Well, it’s reasonable, as the situation is in Ukraine at the same time, we don’t want to incriminate children with unsafe conditions. For us, it is more important to turn over the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian side, this procedure can be carried out in Poland. Therefore, Ukraine has appointed temporary guardians. We are not trying to hide anything, we have nothing to hide - Natalia Sitalo concludes.

"This is not the first time that children have been taken away"

In Kyiv, officials and even human rights defenders do not want to comment on the incident the decision of the court in Poznan in the criminal case against Svitlana. Unofficially, there is a version that the Polish guardians could persuade the children to testify against the foster mother. He said, nothing can be ruled out until a judicial investigation is conducted and a verdict is handed down.

- This is not the first case when children who are liked abroad are taken away from foster families and family-type orphanages, - one of the experts on children's rights said on the condition of anonymity. - There are precedents when such families left Poland themselves, leaving not for home, but for Ivano-Frankivsk and Zakarpattia regions. Because abroad, not everything is as smooth as it seems. Is there a risk that we will not be able to return many children to their homeland and then for whom are we protecting Ukraine?

According to data on July 1 this year, 500,000 children left for Poland. About 5,000 of them have guardians.

Lawyer's comment

Poland can keep children with them

Oleksiy Lazarenko.

Poland can keep children with them

- In any case, the children are under the jurisdiction of Ukraine, because they remain citizens of Ukraine, - notes the Vice-President of the All-Ukrainian Foundation "Protection of Children's Rights" Oleksiy Lazarenko. - But the situation is really not easy. In Poland, the juvenile justice system is significantly different from the Ukrainian one the court is not one judge - it is a whole complex of specialists, which includes social workers and psychologists, before guardianship is appointed, all of them work with the child and accompany his after the decision is made.

The lawyer notes that there is no question of adopting Svitlana P.'s pupils in Poland.

- This procedure can be carried out only with the consent of Ukraine on its territory. The Ukrainian guardian also has the right to come to Poland with documents and pick up the children. But if they are against it, he cannot do it by force or with the help of the police. We are not sure what actually happened. Suddenly, all the terrible accusations really have confirmation, in particular, regarding the conclusion of psychologists?

The Ukrainian guardian must apply to the Polish family court, and the court takes the child's interests first - this is how the entire world practice works.

- The family court can refuse to transfer pupils from temporary guardians in Poland to a Ukrainian guardian. Until the age of 16, children will remain citizens of Ukraine, and then they will have the right to choose citizenship. I don't know how it is in Poland, but I know that in the Scandinavian countries there have been similar cases with small refugees from Ukraine who have the status of orphans.

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