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Campaign against indoctrination: Ukrainian non-governmental organizations push for legal protection in Ukraine

Civil society groups call for legislative action to save children from Russian propaganda and prevent further indoctrination.
russians show children how use weapons
Russian invaders show children how to use weapons in Melekine village (23km from Mariupol), near occupied Mariupol. Image by Mariupol City Council
Campaign against indoctrination: Ukrainian non-governmental organizations push for legal protection in Ukraine

Russians have developed numerous programs aimed at the “re-education” of children living in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, said international lawyer and expert from the Regional Human Rights Center Katerina Rashevska. The expert made these remarks during the presentation of the “Anniversary of Putin and Lyovova-Belova’s Arrest Orders for the Deportation of Ukrainian Children: What Has It Achieved and What Comes Next?” analytical note, UkrInform reports.

Rashevska noted a shift in Russia’s strategy regarding Ukrainian children. Rather than deporting them to its territory, Moscow now keeps them in occupied territories and temporarily moves them to its own territory, occupied Crimea or even Belarus, for “re-education.”

“This so-called re-education amounts to multiple breaches of international humanitarian law. We characterize these actions as militarization, russification, and political indoctrination of Ukrainian children. Russia has implemented numerous programs to this end, all directed specifically at children from the so-called new regions of the Russian Federation, namely the occupied territories of Ukraine,” the expert said.

According to the lawyer, “Cultural Card 85+4,” “University Changes,” and “More Than a Trip” are included in these programs. The lawyer added that these are short-term trips typically lasting up to 2-3 weeks.

“Yet, these trips are highly effective because, during this short period, children are exposed to an alternative version of history. They are informed about how to continue their lives in Russia and are given many gifts and unforgettable experiences. Exorbitant amounts of money are spent on them before they are returned to their parents,” said the expert of the Regional Human Rights Center.

She contends that without proactive efforts to repatriate these children, their personal development may be achieved only within Russia.

Olga Aivazovska, Chair of the Board of the Civil Network OPORA, urged the Ukrainian government to ratify the Rome Statute. She said that Article 8 of the Rome Statute precisely lists the war crimes upon which the case regarding the deportation of Ukrainian children could be based.

“When discussing this article of the Rome Statute, ‘the killings and maiming of Ukrainian children’ are classified and investigated as intentional homicide, intentional infliction of severe suffering or serious bodily harm, or intentional attack with the knowledge that such an attack will have these consequences.

The shelling of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, nighttime shelling of peaceful cities with a large civilian population, cannot but lead to other consequences, including the killing of civilians, including children,” added Aivazovska.

She noted that representatives of non-governmental organizations are urging the Ukrainian government to include articles regarding “crimes against humanity” in the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Earlier, Ivan Fedorov, Head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration, reported that Russian occupation authorities distributed notebooks featuring portraits of killers, so-called “heroes of the special forces” to schoolchildren in occupied territories.

He emphasized that the occupiers continued attempts to brainwash children in the occupied territories and indoctrinate them.

“They brought their own waste paper with portraits of ‘heroes of the special forces’ killers and other dubious figures to Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts under the ‘Correct Notebooks’ project. They believe that such ‘eye-sores’ with portraits of unknown individuals from the past will contribute to their patriotic upbringing,” Fedorov wrote in a post.

The head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration stressed that such actions are actually a manipulation of children’s consciousness and imposition of the murderous Russian ideology.

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