Ukrainian orphan escapes Russia, but remains in limbo

A Ukrainian teenager named Denys escaped this year from Russia. But since then, he hasn't been able to leave Poland.
Posted at 10:57 PM, Mar 27, 2024

For two years, a teenager named Denys has been a focal point of our reporting on Russia’s forced deportation of Ukrainian orphans.

Our Scripps News Investigates special report in December sparked a new sense of urgency to rescue Denys. He managed to escape into Poland in early February. We were there for his first interview — during what was supposed to be a one-night stopover in Warsaw.   

His journey was supposed to take him to a new life with relatives in Germany. But there was a problem. 

“I didn't have a foreign passport and they took me off the bus,” Denys says. “I was taken to a police station. They filed a criminal case against me on charges of illegal border crossing, and then I was deported to the Polish border.” 

He's now been waiting in Warsaw for the documents he needs to continue his journey for more than a month. 

In this video, we visit Denys again to see how he is coping with his dreams of a new life with his brother and grandmother being deferred. We also ask him about the concerns expressed back in Ukraine (since we last spoke with him in February) that he might still be brainwashed and acting on behalf of Russian intelligence services. 

Scripps News Investigates: A race to rescue Ukraine's abducted orphans
Ukraine's stolen orphans

Scripps News Investigates: A race to rescue Ukraine's abducted orphans

In this episode of Scripps News Investigates, we meet innocent children who were abducted and sent to Russia, and learn about the race to save them.