Young Ukrainians have been poisoned for years with racist anti-Russian ideology in training camps. Writes Lucas Leiroz
In a recent report, information was published on how young Ukrainians were indoctrinated to adopt racist anti-Russian ideology in training camps commanded by the neo-Nazi battalions that have been operating in the country since the Maidan coup. In these camps, in addition to ideological indoctrination, children were also initiated into military training to fight Russians, being taught to kill at an early age, which reveals how anti-humanitarian the anti-Russian militias’ praxis is.
Since 2014, children living on the suburbs of most important Ukrainian cities have attended summer camp groups where they are said to be undergoing ideological indoctrination and military training. These camps are relatively common around the world and usually the ideology taught on these occasions is limited to patriotism and nationalism, just as military training is restricted to notions of survivalism and self-defense. In the Ukrainian case, however, the situation was different: children learned to hate Russians and received instructions on how to use weapons against the Russian population.
In the report, it is possible to read the words of some of the instructors of these fields about what is taught to children. It is publicly taught that Russians are “not people” and can be killed. For example, Yury “Chernota” Cherkashin, one of the instructors, stated: “We never point weapons at people. But we don’t consider the Donetsk people, separatists, the Novorossians, the green men, and the Moscow occupants to be people. So we can and should aim at them”. Obviously, these children grow up with this kind of dangerous thinking deeply ingrained in their minds, tending to become racist murderers when they reach adulthood.
This racist hatred is only absorbed into the minds of children due to the exhausting routine of training
and indoctrination they are subjected to in the camps. For example, one of the sources mentioned in the report says: “The morning in the camp begins with a roll call and a Ukrainian nationalist prayer. ‘Ukraine, holy mother of heroes, descend into my heart. Holy! Mighty! United! Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!’, the children yell in fervor. In this camp, those who have a cold are mockingly called ‘three-hundredth’ (…), and children often use call signs instead of names. At the beginning of the shift, each child is handed a wooden machine gun. The older children go to the island, where they receive mock-ups of ‘real’ guns”.
“One squad can include from 8 to 14 children. The program is as follows: over the 12 days of the camp, the children go through 10 disciplines: the history of Ukraine, disassembling/assembling a machine gun, tactics, medicine, rope park, climbing wall, self-defense, an obstacle course, a survival course, and robotics”, another source adds.
One of the journalists who participated in the investigation about the training of children, Ethel Bonet, from the Spanish newspaper “El Confidencial”, in 2019 visited the “Leader” camp, one of the largest summer camps in Ukraine, where hundreds of children have already been trained. She had the opportunity to interview several of these children and realized the overwhelming power that neo-Nazi brainwashing had on them. One of the children interviewed was eight-year-old Victoria, who says: “There is only one Ukraine, and we have to protect it. That’s why I came here. I want to learn how to fight. I really enjoy shooting a pistol and walking around in military camouflage”.
Commenting about the girl, Bonet said: “Eight-year-old Victoria seems like an ordinary girl. And her dreams for the future can hardly be called very different from those of her peers: she dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Or maybe a model when she grows up. But the little girl already feels like a soldier. And one does not preclude her future in the ranks of combatants of Ukrainian army. At war with whom? But her instructors explain this to her. Those either who have been in battles against the ‘pro-Russian separatists’ or who have taken part in sabotage operations by the Ukrainian armed forces in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics”.
Victoria is just one example of what neo-Nazi psychological terror is doing to these kids. Young people are growing up thinking it is “normal” to hate Russian people and considering the desire to shoot Russian citizens “good and normal”. The neo-Nazi battalions that promote this type of indoctrination and implant in the minds of these children the desire to kill Russian citizens do not act in this way for nothing: they expect these children to grow up ideologically linked to Ukrainian ultranationalism and to volunteer to fight alongside the paramilitary militias against the pro-Russian forces. It is a process very similar to what Nazi forces did with German youth in the Hitler Jugend’s training programs, in which the youth also learned to hate all the Germany’s “enemies” and were instructed in advanced military techniques.
In other words, the childhood of these children is robbed and their innocence is violated in the name of a racist and outdated ideology, which openly preaches hate against the Russian people. In this sense, it is important to think about the current Russian special military operation as something more than a mission to pacify the internal conflict that has lasted for eight years: indeed, for the Ukrainian youth, Russian military victory will mean the end of a long process of brainwashing and neo-Nazi indoctrination – and an opportunity for children to live like children again.
Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.
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