Russian President Vladimir Putin's commissioner for the protection of children's rights informed the Russian leader during a meeting on Thursday that she had recently adopted a 15-year-old child from the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.
"Now I know what it means to be a mother of a child from Donbas. It's hard, but we definitely love each other. I think we can handle anything," Maria Lvova-Belova said on Thursday in response to a question Putin asked her during a meeting at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence near Moscow.
The admission is likely to spark outrage as Lvova-Belova is at the center of a Russian program that oversees the forced deportation of Ukrainian children from Russian-occupied areas of eastern Ukraine to re-education camps in Russia.
At least 6,000 Ukrainian children are living in Russian camps at present in what could constitute a war crime, a U.S. study published on Tuesday found.
The official, who has been under sanctions from multiple Western countries since last year for supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine, said she had adopted the 15-year-old child "thanks" to Vladimir Putin.
Lvova-Belova, who according to official reports was already the mother and guardian of 22 mostly adopted children, was appointed Putin's children's rights commissioner in 2021.law enforcement agencies about the facts of violation of the rights and legitimate interests of the child.
She is also a member of the governing body of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, the largest party in the Russian parliament.