Anna Ustinova-Boichenko, PhD in Law, Associate Professor

Childhood is the best period of a person’s life. It is at this “tender” age that the formation of a human as a person takes place, which is actively influenced by the environment of the child. Institutions of preschool education are becoming not only a tools of communication, but also influence the acquisition of basic knowledge and skills. The direction of the formation of the worldview should be set by the child’s parents, as choosing the path of upbringing and education, they influence the formation of habits, control knowledge and other important aspects surrounding their child.

Such relationships between parents and their children are normal, and the state in which the child grows up must guarantee the protection of his rights and create the necessary prerequisites for the formation of a common good and peace for all. Each democratic state adheres to such foundations and prepares children for peaceful coexistence with other nations and peoples, but, unfortunately, this cannot be said about all Ukrainian children. The new “Crimean government” is preparing a different, not so bright future for some Ukrainian children. Recently, the militarization of Crimean children and the fact that the Russia-controlled “authorities” are actively instilling in them hatred and hostility towards “other peoples”, including Ukrainians, have been increasingly discussed.

Propaganda, carried out by the occupying “authorities” in the Crimea, will have a certain effect even after the child has formed as a person, and the effect of “Russian patriotic education” cannot be removed from the psyche of children even after they grow up. After the occupation of the Crimean peninsula started, the Russia-controlled “authorities” began to prepare a new, “military” generation, and almost every “holiday” on the peninsula takes place with a “military” element. In 2017, at a “ceremonial event” in Crimea, a “feast” was held for children, where they played war and threw imaginary grenades at other people. What impact on the psyche of the child can have such an action? It is unlikely that after such a child understands that you need to be friends with everyone peacefully.

For the Russian authorities, propaganda is a favorite way of influencing the consciousness of Russian citizens themselves, which has been used since 1994, and the idea of ​​using ideology in raising children, which we are now seeing in the occupied Crimea, belongs to Nadezhda Krupskaya. In 1920 she initiated the dismantling of scout organizations in Soviet Russia that educated children in moral principles, and created an organization, as she herself said, scout in form, but in essence communist. As a result, since 1924, children, like Soviet pioneers, cheated on their parents, participated in the “identification of enemies”. The militarization of the child’s psyche, which is currently taking place in the Crimea, is the actual preparation of children for war, which is a crime, since it leads to the fact that the child is ready to go to die, as he simply does not understand what death is [1].

“Crimean wreath”, as so called “regional partial program of civil-patriotic education of preschool children in the Crimea” is the main “guideline” for the preparation of “educational programs” in preschool institutions of the peninsuila [2]. This “program” arose in the development of the “decree of the Head of the Republic of Crimea” dated December 18, 2014 No. 522-U, which “approved the Concept of patriotic, spiritual and moral education of the population in the Republic of Crimea”. The purpose of the “concept” was to form in the Crimea a kind of “single spiritual space based on the foundations of patriotism and citizenship, high culture of the individual, preservation and enhancement of the cultural and historical heritage of all nationalities …, harmonious intercultural interaction, traditional moral values, respect for rights and freedoms human being, respect for human dignity”.

The “Concept” proposed to achieve these goals through such tasks as allegedly “asserting in the minds and feelings of citizens of socially significant patriotically oriented values, views and beliefs, respect for the cultural and historical past of Russia and Crimea, for national traditions; improving military-patriotic education and increasing motivation for military service, obtaining by citizens of the Republic of Crimea basic knowledge in the field of defense and training in the basics of military service; attracting religious confessions traditional for Russia to form in citizens the need to serve the Motherland, to protect it as the highest spiritual duty”, and so on.

This “concept” proposes “patriotic education” to be carried out with the help of “implementation of comprehensive measures in mutually complementary areas”, which include “military-patriotic education”, defined by the “program” not just as a “socially significant type of activity”, but as “the highest form, focused on the formation of a high patriotic consciousness among young people, the idea of ​​serving the Motherland, love for Russian military history, military service, the preservation and enhancement of glorious military traditions, readiness to fulfill civic duty, constitutional duties to protect”. The “concept” refers to the principles of “military-patriotic education”, with its unity “with practical military training”, which means “concrete work to train citizens in military affairs, the formation of military professional qualities in them” [3].

Considering this “concept” in the dimension of “military-patriotic education”, one gets the impression that the Russian invaders are preparing for “military service” absolutely for everyone, so every child, since the “program” is designed for the youngest population of Crimea, should receive in the future “military professional quality”. We can observe the results of such a “program” in the media, controlled by the Russian invaders, on the “official websites” of pre-school education institutions, in social networks, when parents of Crimean children show photos of their children in military uniform or with toy weapons.

In 2019, a “parade of preschool troops” was held in Sevastopol, in which kindergarten pupils marched in the form of various branches of the military. The attitude of parents to such holidays is different, and most psychologists agree that the participation of children in the parades dedicated to the “Victory Day” is associated with the “romanticization and decoration of the war”. As Maria Zelenova, a crisis and clinical psychologist at the Moscow charity organization Zhuravlik, noted, “It is sad that children are involved in such a format of victory celebrations, because war is, first of all, death: graves, cripples, ruined lives. People do not choose war by good will, it is a spontaneous necessity. It is unlikely that children should be taught the ideologically imposed position that war is good, and ancestors should be honored by following their path. In fact, not a single person who went through the war wants to see his descendants in the same conditions against which he fought. It is better to celebrate life, victory and the end of the war. And in no case should you do it in military uniform, which is an attribute of death. It is very important that children realize this, because war is blood and pain, not a holiday” [4].

The militarization of children by the Russian invaders is observed in almost all preschool educational institutions of the Crimea. For example, the “plan for holding holidays and entertainments” in the Simferopol “municipal budgetary preschool educational institution” “Kindergarten of a combined type No. 66 “Barvinok” provides for the following activities: for older groups – “We will serve in the army”, for middle groups – “Brave soldiers” [5]. Again, even their names have a military direction.

The private Simferopol “educational complex” “Red Sails”, while raising children and “organizing holidays”, also carries out activities that are obviously aimed at the militarization of children. We can observe the results of this on the “official website” of the indicated educational institution [6] and we can assume that for his little pupils any “holiday” is now strongly associated with military equipment. In general, dressing young children in military uniforms is considered a kind of “common” phenomenon for many Crimean “holidays”. Therefore, the question arises: how can a child perceive peaceful life in military uniform? Why do children draw military equipment instead of the usual good drawings? How will they perceive people, other peoples and nations after such education? Who do they need to protect themselves from? What are the occupying “authorities” of the aggressor preparing them for?

The Ministry of Defense of Russia also takes part in raising children in the “spirit of the paramilitary generation”, which in 2019 reported on the creation in the occupied Sevastopol of the so-called “House of the Yunarmiya” on the basis of the “Sevastopol House of Officers”, where militaristic events with the participation of children began to take place on a permanent basis [7]. Also, on the territory of Crimea, cells of the “Crimean Cossacks” were created, which, together with the “social movement” “Yunarmiya”, ensure the creation of “military-patriotic organizations” and “circles” at secondary schools. The occupying “authorities” plan to create “Yunarmia” structures in every school where children are trained, in particular, in shooting and drill. From time to time, the children of members of the Russian occupational armed formations, participating in the Russian aggression in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, come to the Crimean “Yunarmeets” for a “summer vacation”. For this, “special gatherings, trainings and competitions” were organized [8].

To further escalate the militarization of children, Russia and the de facto “authorities” in the Crimea offer various “concepts, strategies, programs and orders’ with corresponding “goals, activities and funding”. Based on this “normative base”, the Russian invaders began to use the sports, entertainment and cultural infrastructure on the peninsula for their targeted policy of destroying national identity and militarizing Ukrainian youth. The key documents in this process were the aforementioned “decree” No. 522-U and the order of the Russian Ministry of Defense No. 210.

Since 2016, Russia has spent more than 100 million rubles on raising a “new citizen” in the Crimea. These funds were used to hold the most “patriotic” events and projects, in particular, “forums, festivals, concerts, competitions, promotions, games, creating brochures, content in the media, social networks” and to participate in “all-Russian militaristic events.” Among them were such “regional military sports games” as “Victory”, “Eaglet”, “Zarnitsa” and even the game “Zarnichka” with toy weapons for children from six to ten years old. The most cynical thing is that the occupying “authorities” involve religious structures in the militarization of the Crimean children. When a child is accepted into the ranks of the “Cossacks”, he is given a uniform and at the same time he kisses the cross from the priest.

In the subconscious of the child, all this consists in a very rigid installation, since aspects of religion and drill are mixed here. For more convenient brainwashing, the occupying “authorities” trains teachers and educators in the appropriate way on the basis of the captured Tauride National University. The opinions in the minds of the teachers there, as human rights activists say, can be understood by the example of “associate professor of the department of political science and international relations” Andriy Nikiforov, who directly incites in social networks hate speech against ethnic Ukrainians and calls for their physical destruction [9]. Mr. Nikiforov is in very good standing with the leadership of the so called “Crimean Federal University” and continues to successfully spread his man-hating ideology among future kindergarten students and teachers of the training school.

Funding for all this information hell for children comes from various sources. The Russian Ministry of Defense has its own budget for these purposes, and the “Ministry of Education of the Republic of Crimea” receives money from the “republican budget” for activities to educate “a citizen of Russia, a patriot of Crimea”. From 2016 to 2018, 43 million rubles were provided for these purposes in the “regional budget”. For the period from 2016 to 2019, more than 86 million rubles were spent for these purposes, of which about half – in 2019. Also, the “creators of the new man” receive money directly from Russian President Putin through the system of state presidential grants [10].

The Russian invaders inspire children in the Crimea from a young age that they must carry weapons and “defend themselves from enemies” – and in their image they point to Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. This becomes a systemic incitement of hatred and a gross violation by Russia of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of the Child, since the Ukrainian identity of children is artificially erased in the Crimea and the Russian one is imposed [11].

The attempted annexation of the Crimean peninsula brought tragic changes not only to interstate relations, but, first of all, to the lives of ordinary people. For Crimean children, a super-difficult period has now come. War propaganda, in the end, will lead to negative consequences, since it is difficult to resist “military-patriotic education” from the occupying “authorities”, and parents cannot protect their children from propaganda effectively, and sometimes they do not understand the threatening consequences of this for the child’s psyche and fate. Now we see how the Crimean “authorities” deprive children of the opportunity to choose peace and prepare them for war, putting into their heads that this is supposedly the “norm of life”. That is why the fact of a gross and systemic violation of the rights of the children of Crimea due to their systemic, total militarization by the occupiers should receive a response from the civilized world.