Statement on dissolution of all relations with Russian universities involved in indoctrination of children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine - картинка 1

Statement on dissolution of all relations with Russian universities involved in indoctrination of children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine

The collection of signatures for the application lasts until February 21, 2024.

For ten years, Ukrainian people have been standing against the Russian Federation, which has committed an act of aggression by occupying a part of the territory of Ukraine and continues occupying its territories. Russia continues systematic violation of the rules of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by stating that it commits rightful acts.

A glaring example of the Russian Federation’s criminal activity is programs aimed at eradicating the Ukrainian identity of children, their militarisation and Russification on the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. One of the most large-scale and public programs of such kind is “University sessions”, a unified educational program implemented in Russian university campuses for children between the ages of 12 and 17, with shifts lasting ten days each. The purpose of this program is to provide vocational guidance, form Russian identity, and de-facto the Russification of children, eradicating their Ukrainian identity and encouraging them to move from the occupied territories for further studying and life in the Russian Federation. For the implementation of this program, Ukrainian children are temporarily relocated to Russia. The University Changes program involved 10,611 children in 2022 and 10,700 children in 2023 from the occupied parts of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. As of 2023, 81 Russian universities are implementing the program.

A number of Russian officials, with President Vladimir Putin at the head, are behind the creation, implementation, and control of the “University Sessions” project. On his orders, the project was created, extended and expanded, and the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation are responsible for implementing the project.

The implementation of this project is the direct extension of the gravest international law violations that are committed by Russian occupation authorities on the territories of Ukraine temporarily controlled by them, particularly the war crime of illegal deportation of population (children) and illegal displacement of the population (children) from occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. Such crimes have been widely documented by independent international fact-finding missions, including the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission created by the UN Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the OSCE Moscow Mechanism mission of experts. They were assessed in a number of resolutions by international organisations, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It was in connection with the accusation of these crimes (Articles 8(2)(a)(vii) and 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute) that the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for V. Putin and M. Lvova-Belova. Apart from that, the actions of Russian occupation authorities concerning the deportation and indoctrination of Ukrainian children defy fundamental rules of international humanitarian law and international law on the protection of the rights of the child. Mainly, they violate Articles 8 and 29(1)(c) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that provide for the child’s right to preserve his or her identity, citizenship, culture, language, national values of his or her country etc. 

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)

List of the identified institutions of higher education of the Russian Federation involved in the implementation of the University sessions projectDownload

We want to remind that the European Commission arrived at a decision to terminate cooperation with Russian entities in research, science and innovations and urged to terminate ongoing grant agreements and subsequent payments to Russian public bodies or related organisations as part of the Research and Innovation Framework Programmes, Euratom and the Erasmus+ program. 

Based on the facts mentioned above, realising the unlawfulness of the actions of the Russian higher education institutions implementing the “University Sessions” program, we call on the international academic community to check whether your Russian partners are participating in the program and, if so, to terminate and not resume relations with the Russian academic community participating in the program, at least until the program is completed. Please note that cooperation with the educational institutions of the aggressor country allows it to feel impunity and continue its criminal actions. In particular, in this case, cooperation with Russian colleagues involved in activities aimed at indoctrinating and depriving Ukrainian children of their national identity will mean contributing to violations of IHL and IHRL. It will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the reputation of such a university. 

Only complete isolation of the educational institutions and individuals involved in the project can prevent violations of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law or stop the criminal acts of indoctrination and illegal displacement of Ukrainian children.

Signatories to the Statement:

Volodymyr Dahl East Ukrainian National University

Donetsk National Technical University

Dnipro State Medical University

National Aerospace University “Kharkiv Aviation Institute”

V.I. Vernadsky Taurida National University

Bogomolets National Medical University

Bukovinian State Medical University 

NGO ССE “Almenda”

NGO “Association of Relatives of Political Prisoners of the Kremlin”

NGO “Progressive group of Frankivsk residents”

Human Rights Education Centre – Chernihiv