war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

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Russia forces Mariupol children to knit socks for soldiers in Ukraine to kill Ukrainians

Halya Coynash
While Mariupol residents continue to freeze because of Russia’s destruction of their homes, children are being forced to knit warm things for the soldiers killing their compatriots

Mariupol propaganda Mykhailo Skop, Mariupol Today, Photo of warm items action posted by Petro Andriushchenko

Mariupol propaganda Mykhailo Skop, Mariupol Today, Photo of warm items action posted by Petro Andriushchenko

Mariupol residents are continuing to freeze because Russia mercilessly bombed and destroyed their city and is now in no hurry to rebuild it.  What the occupation regime is intent on instead is propaganda and misinformation, with a particular target being schools and school students.  The latter, together with their teachers, are now being forced to knit socks and other items for the invading forces seeking to kill their compatriots. 

Petro Andriushchenko, Adviser to Mariupol’s real Mayor, first reported the new plans on 17 November and posted a copy of the document which Mariupol partisans had clearly sent him.  The occupation regime has thought up a new campaign with the title using the ‘Z’ that Russia has made into the symbol of its war of aggression against Ukraine.  The ‘Warm Concern’ [Tyoplaya Zabota] in the title has nothing to do with concern for ordinary people.  This is about collecting or knitting warm things “for the front. For the killers of Ukrainians, [killers] of people from Mariupol.”

In a letter, to be sent around schools and signed by the so-called head of the Mariupol department of culture, E.V. Karpenko, the plan is described as “a cultural-patriotic action”.  It is claimed to be aimed at “development of a system of patriotic education of citizens of the Donetsk people’s republic’ and also at support for participants of the special military operation [Russia’s term for its war against Ukraine], soldiers and liberators of Donbas.”

The letter goes on to claim that this is a long-standing tradition with such actions during both the First and the Second World War.  It does not, of course, mention that Russia is imposing this on children and teachers on illegally occupied Ukrainian territory who are being told to support Russia’s war against other Ukrainians.  Although the letter treats this as a voluntary activity,  Andriushchenko is blunt in saying that teachers and students are being forced to knit / sew clothing for the invaders. 

Later that same day, Andriushchenko published a photo of knitted socks, etc. with a Russian propaganda message about how “each item, created with our own hands, is filled with sincere warmth, concern and love.”   He noted that the occupation regime was set to publish a denial that the action was compulsory, and pointed out that the occupation ‘authorities’ of the Nikolsky district were already carrying out the action and not pretending that it was voluntary.

Russia has been systematically indoctrinating children in occupied Crimea and Donbas since 2014, however the measures have become especially shocking since its full-scale invasion of Crimea.  In April 2022, the Crimean Human Rights Group reported that children in occupied Crimea are being forced to write ‘letters of gratitude’ to the soldiers killing other Ukrainians.  Shortly after Russia began openly bombing Ukrainian cities, schools in Russia and Russian-occupied Ukraine were sent instructions on how to ‘explain’ to children that Russia’s so-called ‘special military operation’ was “in self-defence”.  

The Russian state-controlled RIA Novosti reported on 28 August that ‘conversations on important issues’ would be held in all classes from Grades 5 to 11 on 12 September, with this including those parts of Ukraine currently under Russian occupation.  Petro Andriushchenko gave a succinct description of this appalling attempt to brainwash children:

“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”.

The Russian invaders’ use of coercion, including threats to take children from their parents, to try to get children into occupation schools was all about such indoctrination.  The measures, it should be noted, were needed because of huge resistance from both teachers and parents. 

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