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.

Putin youth movement teaches kids in occupied Mariupol to hate Ukraine and want to kill for Russia

Halya Coynash
Russia has now added the Putin-initiated ‘Movement of the First’ to its arsenal of youth organizations aimed at indoctrination and militarization of Ukrainian children in occupied Mariupol

Mariupol youth in a performance pushing Russia’s narrative of hatred Photo posted by Petro Andriushchenko

Mariupol youth in a performance pushing Russia’s narrative of hatred Photo posted by Petro Andriushchenko

From September 2024, children in occupied Mariupol will have to ‘choose’ some kind of ‘civic children’s movement’’, with all such Russian ‘movements’ about inculcating Russian propaganda and aggressive militarization.   

In reporting the new low that the aggressor state has reached, Petro Andriushchenko, Adviser to the Mayor of Mariupol,, notes that the Russians have, with much pomp and ceremony, just created a branch of the so-called ‘Movement of the First’.  This is a new organization initiated by Russian leader Vladimir Putin which has been accused of involvement in Russia’s abduction of Ukrainian children. 

Andriushchenko refers to the movement as “Putin’s elite, those who will send members of Yunarmia [the current regime’s ‘youth army’] to die.”  He posts a photo of some kind of youth performance linked with the movement, on which young people are holding up signs about this being “time …. To destroy; To kill; for war”, etc.  Look for differences between this and the Nazis’ HitlerJugend, he says, adding that any differences will favour the latter, “because this [what Russia is doing] is more brutal. Russia is preparing such a future for our children: to kill and die for a non-existent empire.”

While there is nothing positive to be said about the Nazi ‘Hitler Youth’, Russia has indeed added an extra level of evil cynicism in that it is seeking to convince Ukrainian children and young people on occupied Ukrainian territory to hate Ukraine and want to ‘defend’ the aggressor state.  All of this has been seen in occupied Crimea and is now taking place in a city that Russia first bombed and starved, causing huge numbers of deaths and immeasurable suffering. The Russian regime clearly understands that it needs to begin its indoctrination early, hence the large number of organizations targeting children.

Efforts to instil Russian ‘education’, and especially its narrative about the war and ‘history’, began as soon as Mariupol fell.  While the ‘Movement of the First’, Russia has long tried to ‘recruit’ children and young people into ‘Yunarmia’ [‘Youth army’], ‘Komsomol’ and ‘Molodaya Gvardia’  Like Komsomol, the Movement of the First is at one level a relic of the Soviet past, a copy of the ‘Pioneers’. 

All of these organizations encourage militaristic activities in which young children learn how to dismantle; put together and use machine guns, etc.  Children involved in the ‘Movement of the First’ are also taught how to control drones which are being heavily used in the war.  All of this is while the aggressor state pushes a narrative in which Ukraine and ‘the West’ are the enemy, and Russia ‘the motherland’ which needs the children to ‘defend’ it.   Members of the ‘Movement of the First’ meet with so-called ‘veterans’ of Russia’s war against Ukraine and are expected to send messages of ‘support’, thanking the fighters sent to kill their Ukrainian compatriots.

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