Society

Weapons and explosives for 8-year-olds: children and adolescents militarisation in ORDLO

Children in Donbass

Today, children and teenagers are forced to take part in military parades in the Russian-occupied territories of Donbas. Young residents of the so-called “LPR” are actively taught not only the “hot war” methods but also the hybrid and information-context one. The policy of children and adolescents’ militarisation in the Russian-occupied territories goes into overdrive, while time doesn’t work for Ukraine. The generation that grows up in ORDLO from an early age receives Russian propaganda messages, which later become part of their sustainable worldview. The International Center for Countering Russian Propaganda has analysed a dangerous situation for Promote Ukraine.

The need to educate the “Putin’s Jugend” is enshrined by the Russian Federation’s new military doctrine (December 2014). In particular, “activities related to the information impact on…first of all, young citizens of the country, which aims to undermine the historical, spiritual and patriotic traditions of defending the Fatherland ” are declared to be one of the leading threats to the “Russian world.”

Children and adolescents in the Russian-occupied territories become part of this paradigm through involvement in both regular paramilitary organisations (such as “Unarmiya”) and participation in “patriotic” rallies or visits to “military-patriotic camps.” Work on the children and adolescents’ militarisation in the Russian-occupied territories of Donbas is intensified during the long, summer vacation.

In particular, the military parades in ORDLO (the Victory Day parade was postponed in Russia from 9 May to 24 June) involved the members of Young Patriotic Military Movement “Unarmiya,” a copy of the Russian youth organisation “Unarmiya,” whose activities are funded by the Russian Government through the Russian Ministry of Defence.

One of the main organisation’s tasks is “the formation of the young generation’s readiness and practical capacity to fulfil a civic duty and constitutional responsibilities to defend the Fatherland.”

Intelligence and tactical medicine

Recently, the Luhansk Information Center website and the Patriotic Association of Donbas page in VK have pushed parents to send their children to the St. George “military-patriotic” training camp. The preference was given to children from disadvantaged families, including those who are registered with the “police.”

There is also a children’s advocacy project based on the Forest Spaces camp, which is almost free of charge and has operated in ORDLO since 2016. The occupiers plan that more than 100 children will take part in it in three shifts this year. Before the quarantine, 250 children went through the camp each shift.

Here, children from the age of 8 are taught martial arts, how to handle weapons and explosives, intelligence, tactical medicine and even information warfare.

Their instructors are the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, including the fighters of the Berkut special unit, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information, Press and Mass Communications (all the institutions from ORDLO).

The Ministry of Information of ORDLO Head Vyacheslav Stolyarenko reported during the opening of the camp “Forest Spaces” in 2016:

“For our teams of ‘young journalists’ and ‘young cyber fighters,’ we will purposely equip a computer class; we will conduct classes in photography and journalism.”

Thus, the young residents of the so-called “LNR” are taught not only methods of “hot war,” but also a hybrid, information and context one. Next year, this system of “patriotic education” is planned to be extended to other children’s camps in ORDLO.

A new “crucified boy”

Pro-Russian propagandist Oleksiy Akutin, in his post-greeting to the Youth Day, spoke recently about the alleged “Valeria Lyakhova, who had aged fifteen and died in a battle near Lysychansk in July 2014, when she and the ‘militiamen’ had been repulsing the Armed Forces.”

This is an old fake that was distributed in November 2014 via Russian social networks VK, OK and Twitter. According to the fake information, a minor child – Valery Lyakhova under the pseudonym “Beauty,” whose father had died on the frontline – threw herself with three F1 grenades under a tank to save other militants.

The fake has become widespread. But it was refuted soon by the “deceased” girl herself. A girl named Polina Turchyna wrote that the girl’s photo under the name of Valery Lyakhova is hers, and was stolen by the post’s author.

The unsuccessful attempt to resuscitate the old fake, however, testifies to the occupiers’ plans for the youth in ORDLO. According to Russian propagandists, a willingness to kill and die should be the only their virtue.

Reward to a journalist who conducted a brutal interrogation of a cyborg

Among other news not related to propaganda messages in the occupied territories, but still troubling them, two key events can be noted.

The first is awards to two collaborating propagandists. The ORDLO occupation administration leader, Denis Pushylin, presented Andriy Rudenko and Serhiy Makarenko with the Order of Merit for the Republic.

Serhiy Makarenko is a Life News employee, which has been convicted of one of the cyborgs brutal interrogating (under the guise of an “interview”) by the OSCE. In June 2019, Makarenko received Russian citizenship.

Both propagandists are Peacemaker participants. Their reward of “state awards” is additional evidence of the role that the information component plays in the modern Russian-Ukrainian war, in the occupiers’ opinion.

To recap, in May 2014, Vladimir Putin awarded 300 media workers with orders and medals “for the high professionalism and objectivity in covering events in the Republic of Crimea.”

The second event worth paying attention to is the occupation administration plans to build a transmitting tower in the Novoazovsk district. Acting “Minister of Communications of the DNR” Igor Khalepa announced this on 22 June. According to him, 65 million rubles (25 million hryvnias, or almost a million dollars) was allocated for this project in the ORDLO “budget” for the current year. Khalepa claims that this will not only improve the television and radio signal coverage quality in ORDLO but also expand the broadcasting radius of Russian propaganda to the territory controlled by Ukraine.

Resume

The ORDLO’s population consciousness continues to be forcibly militarized, and these actions affecting children and adolescents are of particular concern.

The occupation administration attempts to involve children and adolescents in hostilities are particularly dangerous. Propagandists do not neglect even fake news to create appropriate examples of behaviour for the sake of educating young people in the “spirit of patriotism” and readiness to die for unrecognised “republics.”

The occupiers highly appreciate the role of ORDLO’s media workers, who should be called propagandists in a more correct way, in the Russian Federation’s hybrid war against Ukraine. They also prepare a young shift for “information front fighters” from children and adolescents living in the occupied territories.

In general, the population of unrecognised locations is increasingly engaged in the information archaism, in particular, artificially persuade in “a carefree life in the USSR” and the need for a “strong hand” of Stalin-Putin and his “falcons” from “NKVD-FSB” members who can resist the imaginary “Ukrainian Fascism.”

Valentina Bykova

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