The mother of 23 accused of being Vladimir Putin’s child-snatcher in chief

Maria Lvova-Belova once boasted about adopting a Ukrainian boy from Mariupol, the city obliterated by Russian bombs

17 March 2023 •

With her wavy blonde hair, Russian Orthodox priest husband and 23 children – 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.

For Lent in February, Ms Lvova-Belova, 38, posed inside a Russian Orthodox church wearing a traditional headscarf.
“I would like to ask you, dear ones, for forgiveness, from those I have offended voluntarily or involuntarily. I was led into temptation!” she wrote.

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 appointed Ms Lvova-Belova as the presidential commissioner for children’s rights in 2021.

Since then she has embraced her mission, and the cameras that have followed her around – even adopting her own Ukrainian child. 

Ms Lvova-Belova was appointed children's envoy by Vladimir Putin
Ms Lvova-Belova was appointed children’s envoy by Vladimir PutinCREDIT: Shutterstock

Ms Lvova-Belova is brazen about promoting Mr Putin’s child abduction policy as a Russian rescue mission. In January she applauded a Ukrainian girl abducted into Russia who sang and danced on Zvezda TV, 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 that she has always dreamed of.”

In February, during a televised chat with Putin, she giggled and blushed when she admitted that 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 said to 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.

Russian media named the boy as Filip. He is the 18th child that Ms Lvova-Belova and her husband have adopted. They also have five biological children.

Ms Lvova-Belova often poses in traditional dress on her Instagram

Born and raised in Penza, a town in central Russia, Ms Lvova-Belova is a former guitar teacher who switched to local politics.

She swiftly rose up the ranks before catching the eye of more senior Russian politicians and finally the Kremlin.

Ms Lvova-Belova, who has a taste for wearing delicate, floaty dresses, is often seen with Mr Putin at his speeches and rallies, and with his backing, she can command an audience with any fawning Russian official to push her agenda and mission.

Now she is one of the most recognisable women in Russia, enjoying the media attention and rarely missing an opportunity to flick her hair at a photographer as she cradles a scared-looking Ukrainian child.

She has also completed several missions to Ukraine’s occupied regions to organise the transfer of children, which she is careful to document.

social media
She maintains an active presence on social media

In a photograph taken last summer but posted on her Telegram channel in February, Ms Lvova-Belova posed with four Russian soldiers. 

They carried machine guns and wore balaclavas. She wore a sleeveless black dress and a leather belt to accentuate her thin waist.

“Today we are all defending the Motherland,” she said. “By deed, thoughts, prayer – by any possible help we help to bring closer the day when the sky and our brothers become free and peaceful.”

When asked on Friday about the ICC arrest warrant she now faces, she said: “I am glad that the international community has appreciated our work to protect children. And it’s especially nice to be on the same team as Russian President Vladimir Putin.”


  1. Selected comments from DT readers:

    Graham Padgtt:
    “As has been observed, there are two main types of Russians. There are those who are aligned with western thinking, usually we’ll educated, broad-minded and of a liberal outlook, and others, the majority, who see the rest of Europe as alien, even hostile, and are isolationist, defensive, and anachronistically nationalistic. When this ridiculous person talks about defending the motherland, it doesn’t occur to her that that is what the Ukrainians are having to because of people like her. I’m not saying that there is no-one like her in Ukraine, but I am saying that it is this kind of exclusionary nationalism that causes conflicts.”

    Matthew Ki:
    “Death is too good for evil scum like her and Putin.”

    Clive Foskett:
    “Why is this woman stated to have 23 children?
    Absolutely no way has she had 23 children – part of the lies.
    You’ve only got to think of all the implications and evidence of having 23 children to look after!!!
    It’s all a PR stunt to say that she has adopted 18 children, when probably most of them she does not look after, nor do they live in the same house.
    How could anyone believe that a woman of 38 and just her husband are looking after 23 children every day, paying for them, taking them to school, and feeding and clothing them, eating a family meal together around a very large table, etc..
    Must be an extremely large house, with a lot of toilets and bedrooms, and a coach to ferry them around.
    Probably most of these poor kids are being looked after in some Russian children’s care home, or Gulag’
    Such a ridiculous headline and such a ridiculous story, all Russian propaganda!”

    John Mercer:
    “Evil isn’t a new invention. There were probably German Nazis every bit as evil as Ms Lvova-Belova back in the 20th century – and probably other people too in previous centuries.
    Mankind survived those previous evils without giving up on ourselves and mankind will survive this evil as well. Ms Lvova-Belova may have powerful friends in Russia and in the USA, but that won’t stop her rotting in hell.”

    Carol Banker:
    “Child abduction is among the worst crimes against humanity. This woman makes me sick. May she soon be sent to life in prison and the Ukrainian children returned to their homeland!”

    Red Robbo:
    “Russia is going to lose the war and this evil woman will be charged as a war criminal alongside Putin and the rest of his henchmen when it’s over. May she live a long and miserable life in a cold prison for the rest of her years.”

    Gunilla Jones :
    “Married to a priest says it all….she feels holier than thou, hiding behind religion. They are the worst of mankind and she is definitely THE worst…..despicable woman.”

    Simon Coulter:
    “Hand in glove in with actual abductors stealing the children inside Ukraine – pure Nazi Lebensborn policy.”

    • As Carol Banker observes, “child abduction is amongst the worst crimes against humanity.”
      It is satanic. I’ve no doubt that these children are in terrible danger; psychological, sexual and physical. We know from history that nazis like these are always violent perverts.
      May God protect these children and may the punishment for the putinazi regime be Old Testament.

  2. Criminal dictators cannot be the evil suppressors they are without the help of scum. Every dictatorship had and has them. From the lowly police to mayors, governors to generals, cabinet members to common scum on the street who reports on his or her neighbor for the slightest thing. They all work together to turn a country into a giant gulag. Lvova-Belova is but one flotsam and jetsam in the stinking mafia cesspool tank that is today’s russia.

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