“Universal Soldier” or education as the weapon of Russia in the occupied South of Ukraine”
The Russian Federation continues the purposeful policy of destroying Ukrainian identity and militarizing children, who remained in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
The actions of the Russian Federation are aimed at the complete assimilation of population of the occupied territories and the formation of children’s desire to support the armed forces of the Russian Federation, including the voluntary enlistment in army of the Russian Federation upon reaching the conscription age.
For the monitoring period of April-July 2023, the following tendencies can be identified:
1. There was active speculation by the Russian authorities on the topic of the so-called “Great Patriotic War”, which the Russian authorities cynically use to justify the current aggression against Ukraine. In particular, the following events were celebrated in the temporarily occupied territories:
- April 19 – “The All-Russian United Action Day in Memory of the Genocide of the Soviet People by the Nazis and their Accomplices during the Great Patriotic War” (hereinafter referred to as “United Action Day”)
- May 9 – Victory Day
- June 22 – The Day of Remembrance and Sorrow (the day of the invasion of Nazi Germany and its allies into the USSR)
- June 29 – Partisans and Underground Fighters Day
In total, the monitors of the CCE “Almenda” counted 36 types of campaigns dedicated to May 9 in the institutions of extracurricular, pre-school, general school, and higher education in the Russian Federation and in the temporarily occupied territories. The organizers were the authorities and youth organizations subordinate to them. Public events dedicated to the above-mentioned dates were held with the use of Russian state symbols, banned in Ukraine and a number of EU countries, namely – St. George’s ribbon, as well as the involvement of active military personnel of the Russian Federation.
2. Events dedicated to the “Russian Language Day” on June 6 and “Russia Day” on June 9 were actively held, especially in the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, where numerous celebrations with presence of Russian state symbols were held for children. It is also important to note the increased use of Russian state symbols at public events, as well as in educational institutions.
3. It is planned to increase the number of children from the temporarily occupied territories, who will rest in Russian camps in summer 2023.
4. The pressure regarding the passporting of residents of the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions is increasing – a decree was signed allowing the deportation of those Ukrainians who refused to acquire Russian citizenship. Also, Russian occupation administrations of the temporarily occupied territories of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions threaten to deprive children whose parents refuse to receive Russian documents of the opportunity to study at school.
5. The deepening of cooperation between the occupation administrations of the temporarily occupied territories of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions with the temporarily occupied Crimea indicates the implementation of “Crimean scenario” of the destruction of Ukrainian identity in the mentioned territories. Agreements on cooperation are concluded between the “departments” of the territories, youth exchanges are actively stimulated, joint events are held, including those dedicated to “Victory Day”.
6. Children and youth from the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions were actively invited to educational events on the territory of the Russian Federation (in Kamchatka, the city of Tula, Krasnodar Krai etc.), where participants discuss topics related to patriotism, Russian civic identity, and involvement in professional and social life in the Russian Federation.
7. In the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, children continue to be involved in the activities of children’s and youth organizations of the Russian Federation, and in occupied Berdyansk the initiation of children to the organization “Orlyata of Russia” was held.
Read more detailed in the full text of Monitoring report
The monitoring report was prepared by the Center of Civic Education “Almenda” as a part of the project “Steps towards the meeting: bringing youth from temporarily occupied territories closer to reintegration”. The project is implemented with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic as a part of the Transition Promotion Program. The views represented in this material belong to the authors and do not reflect the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.