Modern genocide. How Ukrainian children are “re-educated” in Russia

The Russian government spends millions of rubles on the ideological correction of children from the occupied Ukrainian regions, BBC Ukraine reports.

On Monday, the Russian Presidential Grants Fund, which allocates state money to Russian non-profit and non-governmental organizations, announced the winners of the first call for proposals for 2023.

BBC journalists studied the list and found that millions of rubles were awarded to projects for the “patriotic education” of Ukrainian orphans and refugees.

Ukraine has repeatedly accused the Russian authorities of ideologically indoctrinating children from the occupied Ukrainian regions and attempting to change their worldview and instill support for the Kremlin’s policies.

According to journalists, the analysis of Russian presidential grants in 2023 allows us to see how this is happening through direct propaganda“psychological consulting,” and even preparing children from the occupied regions of Ukraine to enter Russian military universities.

Changing Homeland and increasing loyalty to Russia’s political course

In the Rostov region, the project “Helping Orphans of Donbas” received almost 3 million rubles (about 40 thousand dollars). The authors say that one of its tasks is to “organize patriotic education of orphans – students of LPR/DPR [so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republic] orphanages and members of adoptive families using the capabilities of the Don Cossacks.”

In the project description, the authors directly state that the children are going through a “process of changing their homeland” and use the term “Russian world.”

“Some children from the liberated territories who ended up in orphanages were brought up in the Ukrainian paradigm and are now going through a difficult psychological process of changing their homeland. They also need to be supported both by reducing stress and by instilling the traditions of patriotism and the Russian world,” reads a quote from the project’s justification.

They call the Ukrainian education system “less developed than the Russian one.”

According to the application form, there are currently more than 2,250 orphans in the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR. All of them are considered the project’s audience.

Another similar project called “To the Origins” was initiated in the Belgorod region. The authors call their tasks “increasing the loyalty of internally displaced persons to the political course of the Russian Federation” and “creating a system of spiritual and moral education for citizens who arrived in Belgorod from Ukraine.” The project received a presidential grant of 1 million rubles (about 13 thousand dollars).

In the description, the authors refer to Putin’s article “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” published on the Kremlin’s website in 2021. This article is the ideological basis of Russian aggression, in which the Russian leader expressed his geopolitical goals of deepening Ukraine into the Russian imperial space.

Children in the service of Russia

Children from the self-proclaimed “DPR” and “LPR” are also being trained to enter Russian military universities.

A project called “Preparing to Defend the Motherland” from the city of Novoshakhtinsk, Rostov region, received a grant to improve the physical fitness of children and adolescents “to pass sports standards for higher education institutions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FSB, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Defense, Cadet Corps and military schools.”

The authors of the project specifically clarify that their target group includes, in particular, “98 children and adolescents aged 6.5-18 who came from the LPR and DPR.” The initiative received a presidential grant of 2.5 million rubles (about 32 thousand dollars).

“The Handmaid’s Tale” in Russian

A report published in February by Yale University and the U.S. State Department’s Conflict Observatory program said that at least 6,000 children from Ukraine are being held in 43 camps in Russia. These are only confirmed figures, and the actual number of children is believed to be higher. According to the Ukrainian government, as of early March, there may be more than 16,000 abducted children.

Ukraine has repeatedly stated that the removal of children from the occupied territories to Russia and the attempt to subject them to ideological indoctrination are classified under international law as deportation and genocide. 

Unfortunately, all these stories about the forced “re-education” of children, their separation from their families, and adoption by Russian families are very similar to the dystopian scenario of the TV series The Handmaid’s Tale, streaming on Hulu. Unfortunately, all this is happening in real life.

As a reminder, Russia’s abduction of Ukrainian children and adolescents for illegal adoption or for “re-education” in Russian camps will be considered as one of the first cases of the International Criminal Court. ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan intends to ask the pretrial judges to approve arrest warrants for several individuals based on the evidence collected by special investigation teams that have been working for several months.

More on this topic: 

Russia uses five scenarios to abduct children from Ukraine

Twitter blocked the account of German ZDF program after a story about the Russian kidnapping of children in Ukraine

Kidnapping at the state level: Ukraine quits European Ombudsman Institute

Photo: (RFE/RL)

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