Commissioner under the President of the Russian Federation for the rights of the child. One of the important (and the most notable) participants in the process of mass forcible removal of Ukrainian children from the occupied territories and their "re-education" in Russia.
Positioned as "a specialist in the socialization and social adaptation of orphans, young adults with disabilities and graduates of orphanages."
Born in 1984 in Penza. In 2002 she graduated from the College of Culture and Arts with a degree in Variety Orchestra Conductor. In 2003-2005 she studied at the Samara State Academy of Culture and Arts (Samara State Institute of Culture). In 2019, she entered Penza State Technological University in the direction of "Management". In 2000-2005 she worked as a guitar teacher at children's music schools and the School of Culture and Arts in Penza.
In 2008-2020 - co-founder and head of the Penza regional public organization for the promotion of social adaptation "Blagovest". In 2014, Lvova-Belova created the Louis Quarter rehabilitation center, whose main function was to help young people with disabilities left without parental care. In 2017, on her initiative, the first boarding house in Russia for young people with severe disabilities, House of Veronica, began operating in Penza, and in 2018, Art Estate New Shore, a residence for young people with various forms of disability, began operating.
The media note that since 2016, when Anna Kuznetsova became the Commissioner for Children's Rights in Russia (whose child was baptized by Lvova-Belova - according to the latter), Lvova-Belova's career, as well as budgetary contributions to her projects, have gone up sharply. Perhaps for this reason, Lvova-Belova began to open new rehabilitation centers - larger and more expensive. In 2016, she received the Order of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Grand Duke Vladimir III degree of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 2017, she entered the Federal Public Chamber. And in 2018, Lvova-Belova became a confidant of Vladimir Putin in the presidential elections.
It can be said that the public position of Lvova-Belova is characterized by certain declarativeness and sometimes even hypocrisy: despite the fact that she has repeatedly noted that she wants to protect orphans from getting into psycho-neurological boarding schools, an active campaign of the charitable community against the construction of closed institutions (in in particular, in 2019-2020) she did not publicly support it in any way. And she ignored the appeal to Putin, which was signed by 115 representatives of NGOs helping people with disabilities. Among the signatories were, for example, Lyubov Arkus, Natalya Vodianova, Ekaterina Men. Another example is the bill on distributed guardianship for incapacitated people, for the adoption of which Lvova-Belova publicly advocated (together with the Russian Orthodox Church) and even ranked this bill as “the most important in her field of work when she was appointed to the post of ombudsman ”, but judging by the card project on the website of the State Duma, it eventually remained without any progress . According to Oleg Sharipkov, executive director of the Civil Union Foundation, who is familiar with Lvova-Belova, having approached power, she “at some point began to either support the government agenda or keep silent ».
Moreover, according to the Penza media, over time the situation worsened even more: for example, loans were allegedly issued for some wards to pay for treatment costs, others died due to lack of proper care, and those with a severe form of disability were “hidden” from inspection bodies. “For the sake of PR for Maria Belova-Lvova, people were literally driven in herds to various events, and they felt like they were making a zoo for distinguished guests,” wrote the journalists of the Bloknot publication. Publicly, the employees of the Lvova-Belova projects did not comment on these accusations in any way.
From February 2019 to December 2021 Lvova-Belova was one of the co-chairs of the regional headquarters of the Regional Branch All-Russian public movement "People's Front "For Russia" in the Penza region.
In September 2019, she was elected to the Penza City Duma from the United Russia party, but she refused the mandate of the deputy. According to some reports, Lvova-Belova was forced to give up mandate in a rather ultimatum form . Lvova-Belova herself commented on this decision of her own (or, perhaps, not entirely her own): “My place today, apparently, is not among the legislative assembly and officials, from whose meetings I, frankly, fall asleep ”.
However, by November 2019, she seemed to have "awakened her interest in politics" again and she became a member of the Presidium of the General Council of the “United Russia” party (Dmitry Medvedev handed her a party ticket - as chairman of the party ), and also became co-chairman of the working group of the General Council parties to support civil society.
In September 2020, Lvova-Belova became one of the winners of the “Leaders of Russia” management competition (organized under the patronage of Sergei Kiriyenko from the Presidential Administration).
In September 2020, she became a senator from the Penza Region, became a member of the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy, and in November of the same year she was appointed Plenipotentiary Representative of the Federation Council for Interaction with Commissioner under the President of the Russian Federation for the rights of the child.
In June 2021, she became a graduate of the Presidential Academy RANEPA.
In October 2021 (after Anna Kuznetsova, mentioned above, became a State Duma deputy, and she needed a “replacement” as a “children’s ombudsman”), Vladimir Putin appointed Lvova-Belova Commissioner for Children’s Rights under the President of the Russian Federation. According to media reports, her candidacy was actively promoted by the Russian Orthodox Church together with the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation.
Perhaps the most important, and most sinister, stage in Lvova-Belova’s career began after February 24, 2022: as a result of her activities as Commissioner for Children’s Rights after the outbreak of the war, and more specifically, her activities in leading the illegal export of Ukrainian children from the occupied territories, Lvova-Belova, together with Vladimir Putin, was put on the wanted list by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on March 17, 2023. The fact that the removal of Ukrainian children to the territory of Russia can be considered a war crime (“in the form of illegal deportation of the population (children) and illegal transfer of the population (children) from the occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation”) was also stated by the UN Commission of Inquiry . The decision of the International Criminal Court was supported at the international level, in particular by US President Joe Biden, as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who called it "a historic decision from which historic responsibility will begin."
However, even before that, in June 2022, for her support of the Russian war against Ukraine, Lvova-Belova was put into the sanctions list of the Great Britain , in July 2022 – of Australia , and in August 2022 – of Canada ; in addition, she is on the sanctions lists of all EU countries and the United States . Since January 2023 - under the sanctions of Japan.
In March 2023, Lvova-Belova supported the ban on the adoption of Russian children by parents from "unfriendly" countries, justifying this by the fact that allegedly "under the conditions of the policy of the so-called "abolition of Russia" there is a high probability of harassment of Russian children abroad, their humiliation on a national basis ".
In December 2022, in accordance with the decree of Vladimir Putin, she became a member of the Board of Trustees of the “Krug Dobra” State Charitable Foundation.
Married. Mother and guardian of 22 children, five of them are bio ones, the rest are adopted, including a boy adopted in February 2023, who was forcibly taken out of Mariupol. Her spouse is Pavel Kogelman, a priest Russian Orthodox Church, worked as a programmer before ordination.
Organization of the process of mass forcible removal of Ukrainian children from the occupied territories and their "re-education" in Russia.
Already in the first days of the war, hundreds of children were “evacuated” from the occupied parts of Ukraine to the Russian regions. Most of them ended up in temporary accommodation centers at recreation centers and children's institutions. In March 2022, Lvova-Belova (who publicly supported the propaganda thesis about “saving the children of Donbass”) made it clear for the first time that Ukrainian orphans would be transferred to Russian families, saying that Vladimir Putin “supported this decision unconditionally” and told her to “act for the benefit of the children." Officially, Russian families were able to take Ukrainian children under guardianship only at the end of May 2022, when Putin signed a decree on a simplified procedure for obtaining Russian citizenship for children from the “LPR, DPR and Ukraine.” But Lvova-Belova had previously negotiated with the so called “LDNR” authorities in order to send Ukrainian orphans to Russian families as quickly as possible. The first 27 children from the "DPR" were placed under "temporary care" in the Moscow region as early as April 2022 .
However, it was not always about transfer to families: for example, in January 2023, the Verstka publication found that at least 14 young children from Kherson ended up in the Yolochka boarding school in annexed Simferopol, which in 2020 was called the “children's concentration camp” for child abuse . In February 2023, the Dozhd media received correspondence with regional guardianship authorities, from which it followed that 400 orphans were distributed in August 2022 to 24 boarding schools, and according to journalists, only 36 of them ended up in families.
In May 2022, the US State Department initiated a program to investigate Russian war crimes in Ukraine. As part of it, Yale University prepared a report according to which at least six thousand Ukrainian children have been taken to Russia since the beginning of a full-scale war. There they underwent "re-education" in children's summer camps. Many children were never returned to their parents. As of the summer of 2022, 350 children declared orphans were adopted by Russian families; another thousand children were awaiting adoption.
As part of the integration program in these camps, teenagers from Ukraine are offered to undergo "psychological rehabilitation." After that, the children (in theory) return home - back to "specially shelled territories," as Lvova-Belova calls them. In reality, everything can happen quite differently: by the beginning of March 2023 in the south of Russia and in the Crimea, in children's camps, as Lvova-Belova herself reported, there were about 89 children who were “delayed” on vacation.
The general figures for deported children vary - in total, according to various media estimates, from 16 thousand (without parental care ) to several hundred thousand children were deported. According to the Ukrainian Ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova, it is known from the information sources of the Russian Federation that there are about 150,000 Ukrainian children in 35 regions of Russia.
At the same time, the Russian authorities do not deny that they are taking children out of Ukrainian territories. The permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, explained that this was done allegedly to "protect them from the danger that military operations could pose." Lvova-Belova herself declares that she “does not know what exactly the International Criminal Court is accusing her of” and that the suspicion of the court “has no concrete basis under itself .” And Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova appeal to the fact that Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, drawing from this the conclusion that it supposedly "does not bear obligations under it."
However, this position of the Russian side is a clear manipulation, given that the provisions of the Rome Statute in this case are based, in particular, on the provisions of the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, to which Russia is, of course, a party.
Article 49 of the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War explicitly prohibits any deportation of persons from occupied territory: “The deportation, for whatever reason, is prohibited, as is the deportation of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to the territory of any other state, regardless whether they are occupied or not." The same Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention permits the temporary evacuation of people, but only "if the security of the population or particularly compelling reasons of a military nature so require." As soon as the fighting stops in the evacuation zone, people must be returned home immediately (which is why the above mentioned words of Nebenzia are also manipulation).
It is important to note that the evacuation of the population is quite formalized by the Fourth Geneva Convention. For example, it prohibits the separation of members of the same family during an evacuation. At the same time, in the case of the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia, such a “separate evacuation” very often took place.
In addition, during the evacuation, people can be moved “only deep into the occupied territory”, that is, for example, to the Crimea or to the self-proclaimed republics of Donbass. And Ukrainian children were sent to children's camps throughout Russia.
The criminal actions of the Russian authorities, and in particular Lvova-Belova, also clearly violate Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, namely paragraph e): "forcible transfer of children from one human group to another."
In addition, according to the available information (including from those children who managed to return to the territory of Ukraine), there were really massive cases of pressure (both psychological and even physical) in order to force children to give up their national identity. It is known, for example, about a group of children whom the occupying authorities sent back in October 2022 “on vacation” to children’s camps on the territory of the annexed Crimea. They promised that the children would go there for ten days, but in the end they spent six months there. According to the children themselves, in the Mechta camp in Yevpatoriya, children who identified themselves with Ukraine were beaten with an iron stick, locked in the basement, and threatened to be sent to an orphanage. The children were told that their parents abandoned them, they were badly fed, in some camps there was no bed linen, only a dirty mattress and pillow.
According to information from the Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada for Human Rights Dmitry Lubinets, there are 43 so-called "re-education camps" in the territory of the Russian Federation, in which there are 6,000 children.
It is important to note that there was not just a forced transfer of children and the use of violence against them, but often - in fact, a forced change of their citizenship, which became possible thanks to the decree of Vladimir Putin, which defines "a simplified procedure for obtaining Russian citizenship for orphans and incompetent persons from Donbass and Ukraine.” According to the innovation (ardently supported by Lvova-Belova ), “guardians and trustees who are citizens of the Russian Federation, LPR, DPR or Ukraine, as well as heads of organizations for orphans and children left without parental care, heads of institutions providing educational, medical and social services, have the right to apply for admission to the citizenship of the Russian Federation orphans". That is, the right to make a decision on changing the citizenship of these children has now been given to the “new” guardians and heads of Russian orphanages.
There is a gross violation by Russia (in particular, in the person of Lvova-Belova) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular Article 8 (the requirement to respect the child’s right to preserve his or her identity, including citizenship, name and family ties), Article 11 (combating illegal displacement of children and their non-return from abroad), article 12 (on the right of the child to express his views on all issues) and other articles.
In addition, the actions of Lvova-Belova also violate the relevant Russian legislation, in particular, part 1 of article 121 and part 1 of article 123 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation (on the need to take into account the ethnic origin of a child when transferring him to a family for education), as well as article 357 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation "Genocide" (according to which the "forced transfer of children" is recognized as a form of genocide).
Thus, the actions of Lvova-Belova (confirmed by a large amount of factual material in the public domain) have every reason to be qualified as war crimes.