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Russian invaders abduct 16-year-old son of a Zaporizhzhia regional head

Halya Coynash

Vlad Buriak Photo posted by the National Police

There are no depths that the Russian military cannot plummet, with these now including the kidnapping of a child.  Nothing has been seen of Vlad Buriak since he was seized by Russian soldiers at a checkpoint on 8 April and there is every reason to believe he was targeted because of his father.

Oleh Buriak is the Head of the Zaporizhzhia Raion Administration (in the Zaporizhzhia oblast).  He explains that his son was abducted in the late morning of 8 April at a Russian checkpoint in Vasylivka.  Vlad was in a car with two women he knows and with three small children.  They were heading, together with other cars, towards Zaporizhzhia when all were stopped by the Russian soldiers who came up to each of them, checking who was there and where they were going.  Oleh Buriak has learned that the Russians saw Vlad’s telephone and dragged him out of the car. 

The car Vlad was driving in was held at the checkpoint for three hours, after which all were released, except the 16-year-old. The Russians “had tablets with them, and they found out that I’m the boy’s father,” Oleh Buriak explains.

The family spent the following 10 days trying privately to secure Vlad’s release.  All efforts have been in vain and on 17 April, Oleh Buriak issued an impassioned appeal to the international community to help save his son, whose whereabouts remain unknown.  His call was seconded on 18 April by Oleksandr Starukh, Head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration. 

The Russian invaders have been abducting public officials; civic activists and journalists since 24 February 2022, with many still missing.  This, however, seems to be the first time that they have seized a child. 

The Zaporizhzhia Regional Administration reported on 18 April that there have been 155 cases where the Russian invaders abducted people in the Zaporizhzhia oblast.  Thanks to the efforts of both the regional and central authorities, 86 hostages have been freed, however a further 69 remain captives, including 10 representatives of the local authorities (20 others have been released).  As reported earlier, both journalists seized by the Russians have been freed.  One was released soon after being taken prisoner, however Iryna Dubchenko was seized on 26 March and taken to the Russian proxy ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ “for trial”.  She was finally released, seemingly as part of an exchange of prisoners only on 10 April.

The situation is no better in occupied parts of the Kherson oblast where the invaders are very evidently targeting Crimean Tatars.  As reported, armed and masked Russians turned up at the home of Gulnara Bekirova-Aldinova, Deputy Head of the Henichesk District State Administration and a member of the Mejlis, or representative assembly, of the Crimean Tatar people and her husband, Edem Bekirov.  He is a former political prisoner, seized by the Russian FSB on grotesque charges when he tried to visit his elderly parents in occupied Crimea in December 2018 (details here).

Among other Crimean Tatar victims is 25-year-old Rustem OsmanovHe was seized (around 10 April) by Russians who burst into their home in Kalanchak, Kherson oblast.  He was illegally taken to occupied Crimea where a Russian-controlled ‘court’ in Simferopol remanded him in custody for two months.  He appears to be accused, like many other Crimean Tatars of involvement in the entirely legal Noman Çelebicihan (or Asker) Battalion, which, despite its name, is a civic organization.  He is the second person from the Kherson oblast (after Rustem Gugurik) to be imprisoned in occupied Crimea on these surreal charges, but the first to have been brazenly abducted from mainland Ukraine. 

Please help to publicize Russia’s abduction of Vlad Buriak in particular, and the Ukrainian adults who are also being held hostage!    

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