Russia plans special propaganda ‘lesson’ explaining to children in occupied Ukraine why the bombing of their cities is ‘liberation’
Children in both Russia and occupied parts of Ukraine are to receive a special ‘lesson’ aimed at pushing official Moscow’s narrative about its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Russia has introduced draconian laws imposing steep fines or prison sentences for even mentioning Russian soldiers’ atrocities in Bucha and other Ukrainian cities, and the aim of the exercise is clearly to present war criminals as ‘heroes’ and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine as aimed at ‘liberation’.
The Russian state-controlled RIA Novosti reported on 28 August that this ‘conversation about an important issue’ will be held in all classes from Grades 5 to 11 on 12 September. This will include any part of Ukraine currently under Russian occupation. Petro Andriushchenko, Adviser to the Mayor of Mariupol, commented on the planned propaganda event as follows:
“A lesson where they will teach “how you must love the Motherland”; “why the Russian bombs that destroyed the lives of Mariupol children are good”, as well as “why the destroyed city and thousands of people killed, including children, are liberation”.
RIA Novosti cites Russia’s ministry of education as stating that the aims of the ‘lesson’ will be to ensure that the children understand “the aims of the SMO [the so-called ‘special military operation’] and that residents of the Russian proxy ‘Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics’ [‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’] “are Russians, therefore their return to Russia is important”. Another is to instil in children the idea that the Russian military are ‘heroes’. It is recommended that younger children (from Grades 5-7) are given ‘the stories’ of particular soldiers taking part in this ‘SMO’.
The methodological recommendations provide definitions of ‘patriotism’ and ‘motherland’ and suggest that children be encouraged to say “what they are proud of in Russia, what they respect how they want to be useful to Russia.” While the alleged objective is “to stir up interest in studying national history and culture; the development of civic awareness and patriotism’, etc, these are evidently sessions where only certain opinions can be articulated, and where everything, from the allegations about parts of Ukraine currently under Russian occupation and about the aims of Russia’s full-scale invasion are based on lies.
Although Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south of the country has now begun, Russia has invaded and is currently occupying parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, as well as some of the Kharkiv oblast, in the east of Ukraine. It is, therefore, indicative that the recommendations for this so-called ‘lesson’ focus solely on the Russian proxy ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’. They also act as though the cities which Russia mercilessly bombed and shelled before seizing, are part of these unrecognized ‘republics’. It took the savage destruction of over 90% of the infrastructure in Mariupol (Donetsk oblast); Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk (Luhansk oblast) for Russia to be able to gain control of these cities, and it has not succeeded in taking other pivotal cities (like Sloviansk and Kramatorsk).
Russian leader Vladimir Putin claimed in the early hours of 24 February 2022 that the objectives of this ‘special military operation’ were “the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine”. The Kremlin has continued to assert that everything is going to plan, so this will presumably be the line that children and their teachers must follow during a lesson of lies on 12 September. Such propaganda stunts are one of the reasons why parents on all Ukrainian territory, occupied by Russia since 24 February 2022, are refusing to send their children to Russian-occupation schools. Russia is currently applying methods of terror, including by threatening to take such parents’ children away from them and to put them in a children’s home (‘under the care’ of the invaders). Such terrorist methods make Petro Andriushchenko’s blunt statement that parents will face liability for their children’s participation in such events, perhaps a little equivocal. The same cannot be said of Ukrainian teachers who agree to take part in a propaganda indoctrination event aimed at justifying Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.