Lukashenko comments on abduction accusations
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has dismissed as “madness” accusations that his country is involved in kidnapping children in Donbass. Minsk actually co-sponsors rehabilitation for minors affected by the war, he said.
His remarks on Tuesday referred to a humanitarian program led by Belarusian businessman and Paralympian Aleksey Talay, a successful motivational speaker who lost all of his limbs to a mine laid during World War II. Talay’s charity has been bringing Donbass children to Belarus for rehabilitation for years.
“He has been going there and back, fetching those kids. He called me a dozen times,” Lukashenko said of the philanthropist. “I contacted [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, told him: Let us spend some of the money from the union state budget on those kids.”
Russia and its close ally Belarus comprise a union state, which serves as an integration institution.
Lukashenko expressed outrage that the Belarusian assistance program was being used by some critics to level accusations of abducting minors.
“They want the [International] Criminal Court (ICC) to charge me over this. What exceptional slimeballs they are! Grasping at straws!” he said, as quoted by local media.
In March, the ICC issued formal accusations against Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the presidential commissioner for children’s rights. The Hague-based body alleged that Russian officials were involved in “unlawful deportation” and “unlawful transfer” of children in the context of the armed conflict with Ukraine.
Moscow rejected the charges as coming from a politically compromised organization. In May, Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal probe into possible wrongdoing by the ICC prosecutor and judges who signed off on the warrant.
Some Ukrainian officials and members of the Western-backed Belarus opposition have argued that Lukashenko should be prosecuted by the ICC on the same grounds as Putin and Lvova-Belova.