A teenage orphan who became a poster child for Moscow's deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia said he was instructed by officials to recite pro-Russian talking points for television cameras and threatened with a beating when he complained about conditions.  

Eighteen-year-old Denys Kostev is one of 4,000 orphans and children without parental care who, according to Kyiv, have been unlawfully taken to Russian-controlled territory following the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Russia says it has done nothing unlawful, and it only moved the children to protect them from war.

Reuters investigated the fates of Kostev and more than 50 other orphaned Ukrainians taken from the Ukrainian city of Kherson. Kostev emerged as a regular participant in a stream of pro-Russian videos filmed and shared widely online.