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Russian child taken from besieged Sloviansk to Russia

May 19, 2014, 14:33 UTC+3 19 19/5
The girl was handed over to the Russian side at the Nekhoteyevka road checkpoint in the Belgorod region
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© ITAR-TASS/Alexander Matveev
© ITAR-TASS/Alexander Matveev
© ITAR-TASS/Alexander Matveev

BELGOROD, May 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Eleven-year-old Russian girl Anna Vasilenko, who had stayed since February in Ukraine, in besieged Sloviansk, has been handed over to the Russian side through a border checkpoint.

The girl has returned to the native land thanks to assistance of Russian presidential commissioner for children's rights Pavel Astakhov and Russian Foreign Ministry diplomats.

Anna Vasilenko, a daughter of a resident of the Belgorod Region, since early February had stayed at the home of her aunt in Sloviansk. The parents sent her to the relatives to stay with them for some time after the family moved from the far eastern Primorsky Territory to Belgorod, Astakhov said. Her parents asked the children’s ombudsman to help after their attempts to return the child failed. Ukrainian authorities refused to help.

Details of the operation were kept secret until the girl crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border.

"We passed through four checkpoints when going out of Sloviansk," the girl told an ITAR-TASS correspondent. "Of course, we were scared there. We had to escape into the cellar. I missed my parents, but I will return to my relatives with pleasure when the situation becomes normal," she said.

The girl was handed over to the Russian side at the Nekhoteyevka road checkpoint in the Belgorod region.

Russian authorities did not only help the child return to her family, but also tried to draw attention of the international community to the necessity for Ukrainian authorities to comply with the international humanitarian law to ensure security for civilians, save lives and organize a humanitarian corridor for children, women and old people to leave areas of combat operations, Astakhov noted.

Sloviansk, a town in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, remains besieged by Ukrainian armed forces. When it is fired at, residents have to escape to cellars under their houses.

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