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MOSCOW, August 10 (Itar-Tass) — Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov has appealed to his Lithuanian counterpart to help return six orphans from Chechnya back to Russia, the press service of the office of the Russian presidential children’s rights envoy said on Friday.
“Starting from 1997, owners of the Native Family family-type children’s home, Malik and Khadizhat Gatayevs, have been taking Chechen children to Lithuatia. In Lithuania, the family lived in a house bought by international humanitarian organizations. Thanks to it, the children had an opportunity to resume school classes and go to kindergartens. The children were offered medical treatment as well,” the press service noted.
In 2006, nine more minors were taken to Lithuania. As they reached full age, some of the children came back to Russia, some opted to stay in Lithuania with their foster parents, the Gatayevs, to help them with smaller children.
In 2008, the Lithuanian authorities accused the Gatayevs of child abuse and taken to a detention ward in Kaunas for eleven months. After the release, they moved to Finland, where they asked for political asylum. They underage children however remained in Lithuania unattended. Now there are six such children.
According to Astakhov, authoritative human rights organizations, Lithuanian lawmakers and journalists were involved to help settle the situation. “But the future of these children is not yet clear. It would to right to pool efforts of the Russian and Lithuanian sides to resolve this difficult situation over the return of these children back to Russia,” Astakhov said.
In 2011, a delegation from the Chechen republic lead by the republican minister for foreign relations, national policy and information visited Lithuanian in a bid to resolve the situation. The issue was raised during a Lithuanian visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The Russian foreign ministry has issued several diplomatic notes over the fate of these children.
Representatives from human rights organizations, the children’s official guardians, and parents of two underage children plan to visit Lithuania soon. The Lithuanian side, in turn, has requested information about living conditions in Chechnya in case they are taken back there. The documents have already been filed and the package will soon be made available to the Lithuanian side.