US researchers say Russia ‘re-educating’ imprisoned Ukrainian youth

by Jacob Fuller

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

A shocking new study from a State Department-sponsored research group paints a bleak picture of the lives currently being led by Ukrainian children who have fallen captive to Russia.

The Conflict Observatory, which collects publicly available information from a litany of sources in the hopes of one day aiding in “civil and criminal legal processes under appropriate jurisdictions,” released a new report Tuesday that suggests Russia has created an exhaustive program for “re-educating” thousands of young Ukranians.

“Russia’s federal government has systematically relocated at least 6,000 children from Ukraine to a network of re-education and adoption facilities in Russia-occupied Crimea and mainland Russia,” the report reads.

The U.S. State Department says the re-education efforts are an attempt by Russia to engage in erasure.

“Mounting evidence of Russia’s actions lays bare the Kremlin’s aims to deny and suppress Ukraine’s identity, history, and culture,” a State Department media note reads. “The devastating impacts of Putin’s war on Ukraine’s children will be felt for generations. The United States will stand with Ukraine and pursue accountability for Russia’s appalling abuses for as long as it takes.”

Per the organization, which partners with the Yale School of Public Health’s Humanitarian Research Lab to find much of its data, Russia has built 43 facilities for use in holding and “teaching” the Ukrainians.

But these facilities are not used to re-educate in the way that 20th Century communist countries re-educated their citizenry, which was through imprisonment and torture. The 21st Century Russian re-education centers are a softer form of propaganda and persuasion but still encoded with a great deal of evil.

“The majority are recreational camps where children are taken for ostensible vacations, while others are facilities used to house children put up for foster care or adoption in Russia,” the report reads. “These findings indicate the majority of camps have engaged in pro-Russia re-education efforts and some camps have provided military training to children or suspended the children’s return to their parents in Ukraine.”

According to the study, the bulk of indoctrination takes the form of heavily stilting curricula so that subjects like political science and history are told in a manner most sympathetic to Russia.

“[Systematic] re-education efforts … expose children from Ukraine to Russia-centric academic, cultural, patriotic, and/or military education,” the report reads. “Multiple camps endorsed by the Russian Federation are advertised as integration programs, with the apparent goal of integrating children from Ukraine into the Russian government’s vision of national culture, history, and society.”

But, the researchers argue there is a far more sinister side to this program, one that stems from the method by which Russia has come to have access to these children.

Far from being war orphans, many of these children are in the Russian camps with parental permission, albeit permission granted under extreme duress. Other children, though, have been taken from their parents without permission.

“Consent gathered from parents for their child to attend a camp included signing over power of attorney in some cases, including to an unnamed agent,” the report reads. “Other parents allege that the specific elements of the consent they gave were violated, such as the term of stay and procedures for reuniting with their children. Still other parents allegedly refused to allow their children to go to camps, but were ignored by camp organizers who enrolled the children in camps regardless. In many cases, the ability of parents to provide meaningful consent may be considered doubtful, as the conditions of war and implicit threat from occupying forces represent conditions of duress.”

Equally troubling, children are not allowed to leave the retreat and parents cannot retrieve their children.

Such revelations have led the researchers to state that Russia’s actions could constitute a war crime.

“This operation is centrally coordinated by Russia’s federal government and involves every level of government,” the report reads.