The State Administration of Belarus
Picture of Nicolas

Nicolas

MFA 2019.12.01 SW Ministry of Foreign Affairs – 1st APPEAL (Complete)
The Sleeping Kingdom of Sweden

The Sleeping Kingdom of Sweden

To:
Ms. Ann Linde
Minister of Foreign Affairs, SWEDEN

Your Excellency,

I am a father of two children who are now four and seven years old and who were abducted by their mother from Sweden to Belarus on the 18th of April 2017.

Since then, I have been battling with all legal means in Belarus using and relying upon the principles of The Hague Convention regarding International Child Abduction to achieve the return of my daughters back to their home where they were born – to Sweden.

However, after more than 2.5 years of an exhausting legal battle in Belarus, I regret to inform you that, unfortunately, the Belarussian authorities do not follow and do not respect The Hague Convention protocols, and they are also extremely reluctant to cooperate with the Swedish authorities (for instance, they do not reply to the requests made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). They have tried in various ways to delay and complicate the legal process, which is also contrary to the principles of The Hague Convention and to the protocol regarding child abduction.

Unfortunately, I must say that Sweden has not shown the proper interest in my case, and I, as a citizen of Sweden, do not feel supported or helped by Swedish authorities enough, and I do not see any significant reaction from the Swedish authorities to the fact that two Swedish citizens (my daughters) have been abducted from Sweden and that they have been technically missing for more than 2.5 years now. At a minimum, I would expect the Kingdom of Sweden to continuously follow up on the whereabouts of its own citizen who is being illegally held abroad against their own will and/or due to their minor/young age (unable to resist their own abduction).

The reality shows that despite any formal international agreements or signatures, many countries (signatories) still do not really worry about The Hague Convention and do not take it seriously at all. And this is not just my opinion – you may ask any other parents who have experienced the same thing as myself – you would hear the same strong response: once your child is abducted, nobody will help you, and you will be more or less left on your own, and there is a minimum chance that you will ever see your children back home, because, The Hague Convention simply does not work properly. I am sure that this can also be supported by the statistics – what is the percentage of any abducted children recovered versus those who have never been returned by their abductors? I am sure the success rate is miserable. This makes me wonder why that is.

  1. b) to prevent further harm to the child or prejudice to interested parties by taking or causing to be taken provisional measures;
  2. f) to initiate or facilitate the institution of judicial or administrative proceedings with a view to obtaining the return of the child and, in a proper case, to make arrangements for organizing or securing the effective exercise of rights of access (my children and I, have systematically being deprived of this right);
  3. h) to provide such administrative arrangements as may be necessary and appropriate to secure the safe return of the child;
  4. i) to keep each other informed with respect to the operation of this Convention and, as far as possible, to eliminate any obstacles to its application

While all of the above sounds very clear and logical, in practice, my children and I have failed big time. The reality is, 2.5 years later, we are still not back together despite the tremendous amount of time, money, lengthy and exhausting legal procedures in Belarus, etc.

And so, after months and months (and then years) of hitting the wall in both Belarus and Sweden, in my despair, I wrote a letter which I attach as a reference (please find enclosed document) to the Ministry of Justice in Belarus, Mr. Oleg Leonidovich Slizhevskiy. However, Mr. Slizhevskiy rather chose to give me a very general bureaucratic answer where he advised me to contact the Central authorities of Belarus, basically sending me back to exactly the same people who ignored my rights under The Hague Convention, including Sweden (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

Let me give you a small example of how “efficient” and “fast” the whole process has been in Belarus – since July 2019. I have been trying to get information from the mother of my children on which school my children are attending or will attend. Of course, she never bothered to answer, so I asked the Belarussian authorities for help (via proper channels – I submitted a formal request to the Ministry of Education).

It took them almost five months to confirm where my daughters go to school, and even that was confirmed to me only after I proved that I was their own father (that, after two full years of legal processes in Belarus where of course, everyone knew who I was).

As such, on the 16th of November 2019, I was finally informed by email and in Russian (this is, by the way, also their norm – nobody communicates with you in your language or at least in English  – you are supposed to be fluent in Russian) from a periphery department of the Ministry of Education that my daughter Anthie’ attends a “private school” (I suspect that my younger daughter Alexandra attends or will attend the same school as well).

While researching the information about the school, I found out that it is a Monastery school, and all my fears came true. I also found the pictures of my children exposed on their website, and I read the school description – this school claims to be following the education curriculum of Belarus. However, what I found on their website made me even more worried and convinced me about the opposite.

As I see it, my children are gravely exploited without being able to protest and react because of their age. Below please find just a couple of excerpts from the internet:

READY TO DEFEND THE FATHERLAND! IN THE SCHOOL “ICHVIS” (ШКОЛА «Ихвис»)

Military excercises at School ICHVIS Monastery School

  • The school teachers held an exciting military-patriotic game, “Defenders of the Fatherland”, where the boys participated in simulated hostilities and threw grenades. The guys even shot at the target!

SCHOOL IXHVIS - The preparation and creation of a new Hitler Youth Generation

Source: https://obitel-minsk.ru/shkola-ixvis/shkolnaya-zhizn/prazdnik-23-fevralya-v-shkole-ixvis

  • Children are happy to attend interesting and unusual elective classes, “Fundamentals of Orthodox Culture”, where they get to know the Orthodox faith more closely.
  • Love for the Fatherland and respect for elders – in other words, they show faithful spiritual and moral guidelines and sow a healthy grain, which in the future will surely give good fruits. Our goal is to raise children’s hearts with a loving, purity, and kindness. We want every child to remain real, not to lose his inner spiritual beauty, and not to become infected with a lie.

Source: https://obitel-minsk.ru/shkola-ixvis/

DO OUR CHILDREN HAVE A FUTURE?

Our country is collecting signatures under an appeal to the President in defense of traditional family values. Sign up or not? The answer is given by Mr. Andrey Lemeshonok.

When this is on display, when gay pride parades are held, when young people get involved and are poisoned by this madness, one cannot be indifferent. This is an abomination!

Source: https://obitel-minsk.ru/chitat/den-za-dnyom/2019/est-li-buduschee-u-nashix-detej

After I read through their website, my despair grew even more, and I wrote a letter to the First Secretary of HCCH, Ms. Gérardine GOH ESCOLAR asking for help. Attached, please find a copy of the letter which I enclose as a reference. Unfortunately, I did not get any response despite sending a follow-up email where I asked Ms. Goh Escolar to confirm that she received my first letter to her dated the 17th of November 2019.

I understand that I will not get any answer from Ms. Gérardine GOH ESCOLAR because HCCH only accepts “Appeals” from State Authorities and International Organizations. Therefore, to follow the formal procedures as requested, I would like to kindly ask Your Excellency to please file an Appeal/Complaint to the HCCH and other International Organizations regarding my case to protest the way that my children and I are treated in the Republic of Belarus. 

You know, it is very confusing to me to see that when needed, the Swedish government is able to show sensitivity, for example, when it pertains to the use of the name Belarus instead of “Vitryssland” to show that Belarus is not connected with Putin’s Russia, that it is a separate State.

However, I do not see the same sensitivity when it comes to an abducted Swedish citizen, and I would like to hear from the same Swedish government what exactly they do to get my children Anthie’ and Alexandra (both of them born in Sweden and both of them being Swedish citizen) back home, Your Excellency. What is the plan, what is the timeframe, who is involved in my case, who is supervising it, who is checking whether all the possible means have been exhausted, etc? Because, until now (and, again: 2.5 years after the abduction), Sweden did not do much to return my children back to Sweden under The Hague Convention.

Also, I would like to use this opportunity to strongly suggest to the Swedish authorities to realize the reality and to start working on adjusting the Swedish family laws, especially when it comes to mixed couples (i.e., where one of the parents holds either more than one or non-Swedish citizenship) where children might get many citizenship’s. For instance, Sweden could introduce much stricter border controls for international traveling of Swedish minors accompanied by non-Swedish parents only, etc.

Also, the Swedish government could do a much better job informing and educating the Swedish public and mixed couples in Sweden on The Hague Convention and on the dangers of international child abduction. All of this is doable and even very much needed because it could help to prevent or at least reduce the number of abducted children, not to mention the cost and headache caused to all the international parties (courts, diplomats, etc.) involved in these cases.

This is what we can read from the presentation on the Swedish Government-Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (in Swedish):

Sincerely,
Nicolas Cheropoulos
Father of Anthie’ and Alexandra
Stockholm, Dec. 2019
Reviewed Oct. 2023
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