With her wavy, blonde hair, Russian Orthodox priest husband and 23 children (five biological, 18 adopted, including one from Mariupol) Maria Lvova-Belova is a Kremlin pin-up.
Her social media profile paints a picture of a woman in love with the concept of traditional Russia and is filled with photographs of herself staring into the camera with doe-eyed sincerity.
When Vladimir Putin was looking to appoint an envoy for children’s affairs a few months before his invasion of Ukraine, this junior politician from provincial Russia appeared to be a perfect fit. He needed a true believer — and somebody who would deliver on his ambition to abduct thousands of Ukrainian children and brainwash them into becoming Russian.
He named Ms Lvova-Belova as the commissioner for children’s rights in 2021. Since then she has embraced her mission and the cameras that have followed her — even adopting her own Ukrainian child.
Ms Lvova-Belova (38) is brazen about promoting Putin’s child abduction policy as a rescue mission. In January she applauded a Ukrainian girl abducted into Russia who sang and danced on a Russian military channel. “Nastya, from Donetsk, is one of those children we found foster parents for,” she said. “Now she has a big family and a kitten she has always dreamed of.”
In February, during a televised chat with Putin, she giggled when she admitted she was so taken with the project that she had adopted a Ukrainian boy from the town of Mariupol, which Russian forces destroyed in March 2022.
“Now I know what it means to be the mother of a child from Mariupol,” she told the Russian president as he grinned. “It’s a difficult job, but we love each other.”
Putin nodded his approval. “This is the main point,” he said.
When asked on Friday about the International Criminal Court arrest warrant she now faces, she said: “I am glad the international community has appreciated our work to protect children.”
Telegraph Media Group Limited