Analytical report

Analytical report “The “University sessions” program as the instrument for the destruction of Ukrainian identity and the indoctrination of children and youth from the temporarily occupied territories”

The executive summary of the analytical report is available in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, and English. Find it at the bottom of the page.

With the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war in 2014, the occupying power, which is de-facto under control of central government of the Russian Federation, began the process of the systematic eradication of Ukrainian identity in the temporarily occupied territories of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

This process, under the nominal task of “integration into the educational space of the Russian Federation”, was implemented through the system of formal and informal education and aimed to form a loyal attitude towards the occupation authorities of the Russian Federation and cultivate “patriotic feelings” for the “new Fatherland” among children and youth from the temporarily occupied territories.

In 2022, after the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation and the occupation of new territories of Ukraine, the processes of destroying Ukrainian identity by using the field of education became even more active and visible. For this purpose, new educational programs and instruments were developed and implemented, one of which is the “University sessions” project (hereinafter referred to as “University sessions,” project, program).

The basis for its creation was the “Writing the future” context for schoolchildren in the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, who were taken to the territory of the Russian Federation for practice-oriented trips (self-education) under the program “More than a trip.”

Later, these trips transformed into a separate large-scale project called “University sessions,” which extended its activities to all temporarily occupied territories (hereinafter referred to as TOT).

On July 7, 2022, after the first University session, the President of the Russian Federation V. Putin was personally informed about the “unbelievable effect” caused to children in the context of “formation of Russian identity” (which was, de-facto, the erasure of Ukrainian identity and the imposition of the Russian identity).

Analytical report “The “University sessions” program as the instrument for the destruction of Ukrainian identity and the indoctrination of children and youth from the temporarily occupied territories” - картинка 2

Taking into account the so-called “successes,” V. Putin instructed to continue and expand the project, which led to the involvement of new children from the occupied territories already in 2023. As of the date of drafting this report, project continues to operate. And in the two years of the “University sessions” program, 10,611 children were taken out in 2022 and 10,700 children in 2023 from the temporarily occupied parts of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions.

Analyzing the collected information about the “University sessions” program, the authors of this report emphasize the danger of this project, which lies in its hidden goal – “reeducation of Ukrainian children” and, as a result, destruction of the Ukrainian identity of children from the TOT.

The content of the program is aimed at imposing on children the feeling of affiliation with Russia and patriotism towards the aggressor state, while at the same time forming false ideas about Ukraine as a “Nazi” and “enemy” state.

The main target audience of “University sessions” is children in the age between 12 and 17 from the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, as well as Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

The key implementers of the program are educational organizations of higher education of the Russian Federation (hereinafter referred to as Higher Education Institutions), which, under the slogan of “vocational guidance work” among the future entrants from schools in the TOT, contribute not only to the “re-education” of Ukrainian children, but also stimulate their admission to the Higher Education Institutions of the Russian Federation with the possibility of further permanent residence in Russia, which will lead to a change in the demographic composition in the TOT in the long run.

Unfortunately, the official websites of a number of Russian educational institutions participating in the criminal “University sessions” program contain information about their ongoing cooperation, to various extent, with European educational institutions. (Appendix 1)

We invite Ukrainian universities and non-governmental organizations to sign a joint STATEMENT to the foreign academic community to break all ties with the Russian academic community involved in indoctrinating children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. The text of the statement is available here. Only the complete isolation of educational institutions and individuals involved in the “University sessions” program can prevent violations of International Humanitarian Law, International Human Rights Law, or stop the criminal acts of indoctrination and illegal displacement of Ukrainian children. 
Sign the statement.

For this purpose, the Russian Federation creates conditions for children to obtain Russian citizenship that have no alternatives – through forced passporting of residents of the territories occupied by it – and admission to Russian educational institutions at preferential terms.  At the same time, the opportunity to study in Ukrainian Higher Education Institutions is deliberately limited by the occupying country: due to the logistical obstacles in relocating from the occupied territory across the frontline, as well as actual impossibility of receiving Ukrainian education in the TOT – due to the transition to the standards of the Russian Federation and the lack of subjects of the Ukrainian studies cycle.

Analytical report “The “University sessions” program as the instrument for the destruction of Ukrainian identity and the indoctrination of children and youth from the temporarily occupied territories” - картинка 3

According to the terms of the Program, Russian Higher Education Institutions work directly with children from the TOT, applying psychological intervention to them and implementing a program aimed at forming Russian identity and popularizing Russian youth movements.

Thus, there is a change in the consciousness of Ukrainian children, under the influence of psychological pressure, the identification of oneself as the citizen of Ukraine is lost – and at the same time, loyalty to the occupier state is formed.

These and other components of the “University sessions” program, which are described in more detail in this report, are violations of the norms of international law and should be stopped as soon as possible.

Read the full text of the analytical report:

  • Legal qualification for the program “University sessions”
  • What this program is about.
  • Target groups of the program: who participates.
  • Legal basis: which Russian legal acts regulate this program.
  • Statistics: how many children from the occupied territories have already participated.
  • Funding: who is funding the program.
  • Which Russian officials are involved in the implementation of the program.
  • Which universities conduct/implement the program.
  • What is the role of the occupation administration.
  • How Russian youth movements are involved in the program.
  • Other actors in the program.
  • Detailed content of the program modules.
  • List of Russian universities that implement the program.

The analytical report was prepared by the Center for Civic Education “Almenda” with the financial support of the Czech organization People in Need Ukraine, as a part of the SOS Ukraine initiative. The content of the publication does not necessarily match their position.