Youth movements as the instrument of indoctrination and militarization in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine
In 2023, 67 billion Rubles were allocated in the Russian Federation for patriotic education, which is 4 times more than the amount allocated in 2022.
Part of these expenses were allocated to movements of children and youth, in particular – to the most massive of the movements called “Movement of the first” (Rus. – “Dvizheniye Pervykh”), which was created at the end of 2022. In 2023, the “Movement of the First” received 19 billion Rubles from the federal budget, in 2024, about 20.49 billion Rubles will be allocated to the organization. For the comparison 10 billion Rubles were allocated for children’s health care.
Therefore, the development of movements of children and youth in Russia is one of the priority areas, for which considerable funds are allocated, and the new movement, “Movement of the First”, is called “the basis of strong Russia”, which should bring up children in the spirit of collectivism and focus on achieving common goals.
Dynamics of the development of propaganda and militarization youth movements in the TOT of Ukraine
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the disbanding of the Pioneer organization that united children and youth during the communist regime, the Russian authorities repeatedly tried to revive such organizations in modern Russia because of their powerful ideological influence.
2014 – after the occupation of Crimea
Such efforts intensified after the Russian occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (hereinafter referred to as Crimea) in 2014. Having established control over Crimea, Russia began to work on bringing patriotic education on the occupied peninsula into compliance with the Russian federal legislation. Thus, in 2014, the first youth movements appeared in the TOT (temporarily occupied territory) of Crimea: for example, the prototype of the current “movement of the First” – the “Nashi” (“Ours”) movement, “Great change” and others.
2016 – the first branch of the “Yunarmiya” in the TOT of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol
In 2016, the first branch of the “Young Army” movement was opened, and, notably, the first ceremony of the initiation of children in the ranks of the “Young Army” took place in Sevastopol as “the city of Russian military glory”.
The international community’s reaction to the expansion of Russian organizations in the TOT of Ukraine
Since 2016, the number of Crimean children involved in Russian children’s and youth movements has been increasing, however, the first resolution of the UN General Assembly, which drew attention to the problem of the militarization of children, was adopted only in 2019. The role of the Young Army and other movements in the militarization and indoctrination of children was not directly mentioned, but in 2020 and 2021, UN member states urged Russia to refrain from including educational institutions of the occupied Crimea in the Russian system of “military-patriotic education”, which includes movements of children and youth.
The lack of a proper response to these violations, which was limited to condemnation in resolutions, led to the fact that in 2022, with the expansion of the geography of the territories occupied by Russia, the influence of these movements on other Ukrainian territories also expanded.
The Russian occupation authorities use movements of children and youth as another instrument for re-educating Ukrainian children.
In this report, we provide data on three biggest organizations that function in the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea and the South of Ukraine (separate parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions): “Movement of the First”, “Young Army” and “YugMolodoi”
- a short throwback to the history of their foundation,
- dynamics of the growth of members’ number,
- the main directions of the activities related to the destruction of the identity of Ukrainian children.
The monitoring report was prepared by the Center for Civic Education “Almenda” as a part of the project “Destroyed childhood: Approaching justice”. The content of this document is the sole responsibility of the Public Organization “Center for Civic Education “Almenda” and does not necessarily reflect the position of Civil Rights Defenders.