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Camps in the TOT of Crimea as an instrument of indoctrination and militarisation of Ukrainian children.  Examples in June 2024 - картинка 1

Camps in the TOT of Crimea as an instrument of indoctrination and militarisation of Ukrainian children. Examples in June 2024

The most “striking” events of June in the temporarily occupied territory (TOT) of Crimea in terms of child rights violations occurred during the so-called summer recreation campaign.

This year, the occupation authorities of Crimea have stated that they expect to take about 190,000 children for “recreation”, of whom 48,000 are planned to be brought from other regions of the Russian Federation, including the TOT of Ukraine, which Russia disguises as “new territories”. Last summer, 55,400 children stayed in 30 suburban camps in Crimea during the summer holidays on preferential vouchers. In particular, from the occupied regions of Ukraine: Zaporizhzhia – 4358 children, Kherson – 727, Donetsk and Luhansk – over 4,000.

De facto, this “rest” is used for patriotic and military events in accordance with the main narratives of Russian ideology, introducing changes with enhanced military training, military training camps, games and festivals aimed at integrating Ukrainian children into the educational and upbringing space of the Russian Federation. These facts indicate a systematic approach to measures aimed at forming a Russian identity among Ukrainian children, their militarisation and involvement in activities in support of the Russian Federation’s armed aggression against Ukraine.

Such actions violate a number of provisions of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Firstly, Article 49 IV of the Geneva Convention prohibits the forced transfer of residents of temporarily occupied territories. Secondly, the use of recreation for the actual “re-education” of children violates Article 8 (the child’s right to preserve his or her identity), Article 19 (protection of the child from all forms of physical and psychological violence, injury or abuse), Article 31 (the child’s right to rest and leisure) of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of the Child, to which the Russian Federation is a party.

Already in June of this year, events for children, including those from the temporarily occupied territories, took place in the children’s camps of the TOT of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, aimed at indoctrination, eradication of national Ukrainian consciousness, Russification and militarisation of children.

Just a few examples:

Camps in the TOT of Crimea as an instrument of indoctrination and militarisation of Ukrainian children.  Examples in June 2024 - картинка 2
More than 3,000 children in the Artek camp took part in a themed ‘Motherland Day’, during which they publicly chanted ‘We are Russians, we are the future of Russia, we are a worthy generation’, sang the Russian anthem, and raised the Russian flag. The organisers claim that the event is aimed at patriotic education, which is de facto Russification of children, imposing on them the perception of Russia as their homeland.

Camps in the TOT of Crimea as an instrument of indoctrination and militarisation of Ukrainian children.  Examples in June 2024 - картинка 3
The Artek camp regularly hosts meetings between children and Russian military personnel involved in the war against Ukraine (the so-called participants of the Joint Forces Operation). During these meetings, children are presented with military personnel as “real heroes”, “defenders of the Motherland (Russia)”, which is in fact their glorification, and such narratives are also aimed at children’s perception of Russia as their homeland that needs to be defended. Military personnel share their combat experience with children and talk about the military profession. As a result of such meetings and under their influence, children thank the military for protecting “their homeland and the opportunity to live under a peaceful sky”.
Camps in the TOT of Crimea as an instrument of indoctrination and militarisation of Ukrainian children.  Examples in June 2024 - картинка 4
110 children and teenagers in the Alkadar children’s camp were trained under the School of Future Commanders programme organised by the regional branch of UNARMY in Sevastopol. Sevastopol. During this “holiday”, the children were trained in firearms and drill, AK-47 disassembly and assembly, radio communications, protection against weapons of mass destruction, the basics of army hand-to-hand combat, and tactics in the game Laser Tag. Such training cannot be considered recreation, but is in fact the militarisation of children and their preparation for service in the Russian Armed Forces.
Camps in the TOT of Crimea as an instrument of indoctrination and militarisation of Ukrainian children.  Examples in June 2024 - картинка 5
The so-called Ministry of Internal Affairs of the occupied Crimea initiated a military-patriotic camp in the field called “Young Defender of the Fatherland – Avangard” for children who “found themselves in a difficult life situation”. According to the organisers, the main goals of this event are, in particular, “education and development of love for their homeland (note: Russia)”. The organisation of such camps is actually aimed at “re-educating” children, their Russification and militarisation..

Camps in the TOT of Crimea as an instrument of indoctrination and militarisation of Ukrainian children.  Examples in June 2024 - картинка 8
In the park of children’s camps “Gorny” (note – part of “Artek”, TOT of the AR of Crimea), an educational and game programme “Russian Yard” was held. The aim of the programme was to introduce children to “the culture, history and traditions of multinational Russia, to demonstrate the achievements of the Russian people, to build pride in their small homeland and the country as a whole”..

Camps in the TOT of Crimea as an instrument of indoctrination and militarisation of Ukrainian children.  Examples in June 2024 - картинка 9
Children from Sevastopol schools No. 3 and No. 6, who had been accepted into the ranks of the First Movement, took part in the regional specialised shift “Commonwealth of Eaglets of Russia” at the Laspi children’s camp (TOT of Crimea). After the initiation, the children played a game dedicated to Russian traditions, fairy tales and Russian history.

Responsibility?

On 24 June, the EU Council of Ministers unveiled the 14th package of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, which included the Artek International Children’s Centre camp.

“Artek is one of the largest camps in the TOT of Crimea, where thousands of children from the occupied territories are taken for so-called “holidays”. The administration of the camp cooperates with the youth movement ‘Yunarmiya’, ‘Movement of the First’, and the Russian military, including the Russian Navy, with the assistance of which thematic military-patriotic shifts are organised, where children undergo military training. Usually, during these sessions, children are dressed in military uniforms and are trained in basic military, firearms, and sports training with weapons in their hands.

Also, during the so-called “rest”, children are actively involved in propaganda events dedicated to the occupation of the peninsula, the so-called Crimean Spring; events aimed at glorifying the participants of the so-called AFU; in the camps, the performance of the Russian anthem and the raising of the Russian flag are mandatory, which is aimed at imposing a sense of belonging to Russia.

In fact, Artek was included in the EU sanctions list for organising a specific “summer holiday”, and earlier in 2023, in the UK and US sanctions lists.

However, Artek is only one of the camps in the TOT of Crimea that implements policies aimed at indoctrinating and militarising children from the TOT of Ukraine. Therefore, the pressure must increase.