Russia sends teachers to occupied regions to erase Ukraine's history

This Wednesday (24), marks six months since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. As propaganda and narratives during a military conflict are in many cases as valued as battlefield victories, Russia accelerates its efforts towards a process of acculturation of the occupied territories.

Nas regions it occupies in eastern and southern Ukraine, the Kremlin adopts a radical Russification strategy: it establishes local occupation authorities loyal to Moscow, imposes the ruble as the local currency, distributes Russian passports, forces schools to follow the Russian curriculum, and a lot of propaganda. The final step could be to hold referendums for annexation of these areas to Russia, as the government of Vladimir Putin already did in Crimea in 2014.

No In the education segment of this strategy, what is sought is to teach Ukrainian children the Russian world view of relations between the country and Ukrainians: homelands that would be “sisters”, basically the same thing, and that modern Ukraine would be a “invention” – an argument that Putin used when he recognized the republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in February and promised both protection, days before the invasion of Ukraine.

In addition to these regions, the strategy is being implemented in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, where Moscow also plans to hold membership referendums.

In late June, Russian Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov declared that education in Ukraine “must be corrected”. “The main task is to tell students in schools the whole truth, the truth about our brother peoples, about common achievements and victories”, he justified.

According to the Moscow Times, Russian teachers are receiving salary offers up to nine times what they earn to teach in schools in the occupied regions of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Daniil Ken, president of the independent Russian union Teachers’ Alliance, linked to the opposition Alexei Navalny said it is not about generosity, but because the Kremlin has had problems convincing teachers to move to conflict regions – according to the unionist, demand for vacancies in eastern Ukraine remains low.

“I hope that some people have a moral understanding that going to the Occupied Territories is wrong, but there is also a rational assessment that there are risks,” Ken told Polish TV station Belsat.

Georgy Grigoriyev, language and literature teacher Russian women, chemistry and biology, told the Washington Post that he accepted to teach in the occupied areas because of the salary. He told the US newspaper that he must stay in Ukraine for at least a year.

“I will probably buy an apartment there. I have nothing to lose,” he explained. “And I thought, ‘Why not?’ I’m divorced, my kids are adults, so I could work there, especially for such a good salary.”

In contrast, teachers who taught the Ukrainian curriculum are being removed when they don’t agree to deliver the content imposed by Moscow.

A professor of Ukrainian literature told the Financial Times that “traitors , who seemed to have been waiting for this for a long time, suddenly became the bosses.” The principal of the school where she taught was replaced after refusing to introduce the Russian curriculum. The teacher herself was removed.

“This is our daily routine, observing the happenings around us while forcing ourselves to live normally”, she lamented.

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