Russian schoolchildren given lessons on Ukraine invasion and how to ‘distinguish lies from truth’

They will be taught why ‘liberation mission in Ukraine is a necessity’, education ministry says

Peony Hirwani
Monday 07 March 2022 10:24 GMT
Russian mother comforts kids after being arrested for taking flowers to Ukrainian embassy

Russia’s education ministry has directed schools in the country to hold a virtual lesson for children justifying the need to wage war on Ukraine.

According to a Facebook post by the ministry, the “All-Russian Open Lesson” was scheduled for noon Moscow time (10 am BST) on Thursday. It is not yet clear if the lesson took place.

“At the All-Russian Open Lesson, school children will be told why the liberation mission in Ukraine is a necessity,” the post in Russian read.

Students were expected to be taught about the “danger Nato represents to [Russia]” as well as the reason “why Russia stood up for the protection of the civilians of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics”.

The ministry also revealed that all students will be taught how to distinguish “the truth from lies in the huge stream of information, photos, and videos” that are trending on the internet.

This move came amid reports that the Russian government has been issuing guidelines to schools on how teachers should explain the Ukraine invasion to children.

Since 1 March, Russian schools have been told to host special social studies classes where teachers must tell students between classes seven and 11 about the government’s version of the Ukrainian conflict.

The lessons are based on guides and manuals distributed to schools that contain an “approved” version of the current conflict.

Announcement of ‘All-Russian Open Lesson’
Announcement of ‘All-Russian Open Lesson’ (Education Ministry of Russia)

One manual explicitly states that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “not a war” and claims that the “Ukrainian nation did not exist until the 20th century, and in 2014 suffered a bloody coup d’état that installed an American puppet regime”.

A source from one school told Al Jazeera that teachers have no choice but to follow these manuals, and provide the Kremlin proof that they’re conducting these lessons.

In recent days, parents have also received letters from schools warning them to keep an eye on their kids’ consumption of social media.

Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine after Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in a televised address to his citizens on 24 February.

As the invasion entered its eighth day, Ukraine’s capital Kyiv was braced for a siege, the second-largest city Kharkiv was reeling from further airstrikes and control of the port city of Kherson was contested. Russia has claimed to have taken “complete control” of Kherson. If this is accurate, it would be the first major city to fall during the war.

Elsewhere, the Kremlin’s forces continue to besiege the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, with its council warning that its inhabitants no longer have access to water, heating and power.

More than a million Ukrainians have so far fled the conflict, while the International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched an investigation into potential war crimes committed by Russia.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, meanwhile, has said his country’s armed forces are holding off the Russian advance.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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