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Deliberate Militarization of Education, Language, Culture – Weapon of Russians in Occupied Territories

Russia is implementing the “Crimean” model of militarization of children in the newly occupied territories. In general, the militarization of public consciousness was a necessary step of the Russian Federation for a full-scale invasion. Olha Skrypnyk, Chairperson of Crimean Human Rights Group board, stated this during a panel discussion at UKRINFORM.

‘The war did not start now, but in 2014. Crimea then became the base and platform for polishing the mechanisms that the Russian Federation is currently applying in the newly occupied territories. Crimea has also become a military base for levelling attacks. But for this purpose, since 2014, Russia has begun to militarize not only education, but the entire life of society: it has consistently trained the population for this war,” the human rights activist emphasized.

According to Ms.Skrypnyk, Russia has implemented three parallel tracks on the occupied peninsula: the development of political repression, the purge of those who were against the occupation, the curtailment of freedom of speech, and the militarization, first of all, of education.

‘There were two goals: preparing society for war (militarization that continues in Crimea is a war crime, it is documented, and there is a submission to the ICC) and eliminating the Ukrainian identity: both cultural and civil. And now it has only intensified. After February 24, amendments to laws have been adopted used now to persecute the people in the education system, too. For example, these are fines and dismissal of teachers,’ Mr.Skrypnyk said.

Valentina Potapova, Head of the ALMENDA Civic Education Center, added that the invaders were developing a 100% copy of the Crimean militarization model in the occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regionsr.

‘We see the same that was in Crimea: elimination of textbooks, the ban on teaching the history of Ukraine and the Ukrainian language, the establishment of military cadet classes. So, on October 12, the first detachment of the “YUNARMIA” was established in the Zaporizhzhia region’, Ms.Potapova noted.

According to her, in order to militarize children, the invaders have not only revived the ZARNITSA[1] Soviet-time game, but also introduced ZARNICHKA[2] game for 7 to 9 years old children. The ZEMSKIY UCHITEL[3] program has been also introduced to replace ‘wrong’ teachers with ‘correct’ ones, i.e. from Russia.

‘In the occupied territories the Russian Federation is trying to erase the Ukrainian identity of the youth and replace it with a Russian one, using militarization for this purpose,’ Ms.Potapova emphasized.

[1] An all-national Soviet time children’s war game organized within the Young Pioneers organization. The game was an imitation of military actions (reconnaissance, battles, etc.)[ The word zarnitsa literally means “heat lightning“.

[2] A diminutive from ZARNITSA

[3] Means ‘communal teacher’, refers to the Russian historical name for a 19th c. local self-government unit, ‘zemstvo’

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