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 will force parents to attend war propaganda classes about its ‘liberation of Ukraine’

Halya Coynash
Children whose lives have been shattered and other Ukrainians are told that they were ‘liberated’ – and expected to nod their heads and say nothing.

The ruins of the tower block Russian bombed and destroyed on 14 January 2023 Photo DNS, Young woman suspended between floors of the bombed block Photo Hromadske. Insertion from the Russian propaganda for children about supposed Russian ‘soldier – liberators’

The ruins of the tower block Russian bombed and destroyed on 14 January 2023 Photo DNS, Young woman suspended between floors of the bombed block Photo Hromadske. Insertion from the Russian propaganda for children about supposed Russian ‘soldier – liberators’

Moscow is planning to extend the propaganda ‘conversations about important things’ introduced soon after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine to cover not only all children and young people, but also their parents.  Children and their parents have long complained that the students have been threatened with expulsion or faced other  punitive measures if they did not attend the weekly ‘conversations’, and it is unlikely that parents’ participation would be any more voluntary.

On 19 February the head of Russia’s education ministry, Sergei Kravtsov announced that they had decided to extend the so-called ‘Conversations about important things’ to parents.  They were currently discussing the format, he added, so that it was ‘really interesting’ for parents. 

These ‘conversations’ have been held as the first lesson since early September 2022.  Like the weekly raising of the Russian flag and singing of the national anthem, the ‘conversations’ were clearly linked with Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.  The events are ‘conversations’ in name alone, as there is no question of children being allowed to hear or express alternative points of view about Russia’s war against Ukraine; about the supposedly ‘heroic’ Russian armed forces; so-called ‘Russian traditional values’; ‘patriotism’; and heroism of dying for Russia on Ukrainian soil, etc.  There is a special website, providing lesson plans, methodological recommendation, etc, and, since the middle of February 2023, a selection of the ‘conversations’ are being broadcast on the state-control TV 1 [Pyervy Kanal]. 

Russia’s full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022 came the day after the country, under leader Vladimir Putin, marked ‘Defender of the Fatherland Day’.  As both the public holiday and the first anniversary of Russia’s act of aggression against a sovereign state approach, Russian education officials have provided teachers with detailed scripts and methodological guides for a ‘lesson’ about Russian ‘defenders’.  While every country encourages children to treat the nation’s soldiers with respect, the lies that children in Russia and occupied parts of Ukraine are being fed are quite terrifying. 

In the script for Grades 8 and 9, children are told that the Russian army and fleet “protect the country’s borders”.  “We must never forget that it is specifically Russian soldiers who are fighter-liberators, who century after century have liberated humanity from the hands of dictators and aggressors, seeking world supremacy.”

Military service, it is claimed, has always been “considered the duty and matter of honour for real men.  Nothing has changed to this day.”.

The voice goes on to assert that 23 February “is a day of unity of all generations of armed defenders of the Motherland against those who encroach upon its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The teacher then asserts that the military service is “in the first instance, defence of Russian land” and asks the students to name those remembered as “defenders of the country”.  S/he then reels off names and mentions “heroes of the SMO” [the so-called ‘special military operation’ as Putin and Russia are calling their war against Ukraine].

The teacher cites the phrase attributed to Alexander Nevsky: “He who comes to us with a sword, will perish by the sword” and goes on to claim that “this phrase reflects the essence of our country and our army.

Once again it is drummed into the children that Russian soldiers are “liberators” who, allegedly, “saved humanity from Napoleon’s army in the XIX century and from German Nazism in the XX century. And continue to save it to this day”.

The role of the school students is to listen, to answer easy prompts (about famous military leaders, etc) and to not, under any circumstances, ask inconvenient questions.  Questions like,  for example, how invading Ukraine, bombing Ukrainian cities and killing huge numbers of civilians constitutes “defence of Russian land”.  And how sending tanks in to Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring, invading Afghanistan, not to mention the carnage and destruction caused Ukraine are the acts of “liberators”.   

Those who do ask questions or who express any opposition to this official narrative are fined, dismissed from their jobs, jailed for up to 15 days on administrative charges or face long sentences on criminal charges, swiftly introduced into the administrative and criminal codes within ten days of the full-scale invasion.

Russia is now planning to force parents to take part in these Orwellian propaganda exercises. 

That is shocking enough in parts of Russia.  It is infinitely more so on occupied Ukrainian territory where the Russian invaders and local collaborators are known to be forcing children to entertain and / or write ‘letters of thanks’ to the Russian military who bombed and destroyed Ukrainian cities, often raping and pillaging civilians.  Children whose lives have been shattered and other Ukrainians are told that they were ‘liberated’ – and expected to nod their heads and say nothing. 

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