Who Is Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova? Russia Official Accused of War Crime

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova on Friday.

Both face accusations of committing war crimes associated with the Russia-Ukraine war. The ICC alleges that Lvova-Belova and Putin were conducting unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

Lvova-Belova—who is sometimes referred to as Mother Russia in media reports—works as the Commissioner for Children's Rights for the Russian Federation, a position she's held since her 2021 appointment by Putin. She recently made headlines when she shared information on her Telegram channel that she was helping connect Ukrainian children with Russian parents hoping to adopt them.

In the spring of 2022, Lvova-Belova adopted a Ukrainian teenager into her family. The child came from Mariupol, which had recently been attacked by Russians. She allegedly used the example as a transition that Ukrainian children make when they arrive in Russia. After several months, the Ukrainian child begins to "love" Russia.

Maria Lvova-Belova putin russia war crimes
Inset: Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during his annual meeting with prosecutors on March 15, 2023, in Moscow. Maria Lvova-Belova, Russian children's rights commissioner, attends a meeting with Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, on February 16, 2023. Contributor/Mikhail METZEL / SPUTNIK / AFP/Getty Images

"When we brought them to the territory of the Moscow region so that they could recover a little, the story began that they spoke negatively about [Putin], said all sorts of nasty things, sang the anthem of Ukraine, 'Glory to Ukraine' and all that," Lvova-Belova said, according to a BBC report. "So yes, there is this kind of negativity, maybe in the beginning, but then it turns into love for Russia."

In February, CNN reported that Lvova-Belova continues to visit Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine and escorts Ukrainian children back to Russia, where they are then adopted by Russian families. According to the report, Putin granted Lvova-Belova permission to take "additional measures" to recover children without parental care in Russia's illegally annexed territories of Ukraine, including Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, Luhansk and Donetsk.

Lvova-Belova frequently shares photos and videos of the children seemingly enjoying their new families on her Telegram channel.

However, the ICC ruled that Lvova-Belova's work was darker than appeared on social media. She is accused of unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.

ICC released a statement alleging that the crimes have been committed in Ukrainian territory beginning on February 24, 2022, when Russia initiated its special military operation in Ukraine. The operation soon evolved into a full-scale war.

"There are reasonable grounds to believe that Ms Lvova-Belova bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes, for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others," the ICC said in the statement.

Putin faces similar allegations, and an arrest warrant has been issued for Russia's president for allegedly committing the unlawful deportation of children and unlawful transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Federation via email for comment.