Kids are being trained to kill at Ukrainian nationalist camps, as reported by the Associated Press.
Some of the campers are dressed in combat fatigues, carefully aim their AK-47s, while their instructors teach them that they shouldn’t consider their targets “human beings.”
“We never aim guns at people,” instructor Yuri “Chornota” Cherkashin tells them. “But we don’t count separatists, little green men, occupiers from Moscow, as people. So, we can and should aim at them.”
VIDEO: Children as young as 8 train at Ukrainian nationalist camp. (AP Video/Mstyslav Chernov)
Most of the children are in their teens, but some are as young as 8 years old. They are at a summer camp created by one of Ukraine’s radical nationalist groups, in a forest in western Ukraine, which was visited by AP. The camp has two purposes to teach children to defend their country from “Russian aggression” and to spread nationalist propaganda.
The nationalists have been repeatedly accused of violence and racism, but they are still allowed to and play a voluntary and central role in Ukraine’s conflict in the Donbass region. They also evidently have strong links with the Ukrainian government.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Youth and Sports earmarked 4 million hryvnias (about $150,000) to fund some of the youth camps among the dozens built by the nationalists. The purpose: “national patriotic education.”
Natalia Vernigora, the Ministry spokeswoman said that the money is distributed by a panel which looks for “signs of xenophobia and discrimination, it doesn’t analyze activities of specific groups.”
Cherkashin, the instructor is a veteran of the fight with “pro-Russian separatists” in Eastern Ukraine. He was wounded in combat and after recovery went on to lead Sokil, the youth wing of the Svoboda Party. According to him it is important for Ukraine’s children to be filled with nationalist thought, so that they can fight against Vladimir Putin’s Russia as well as “challenges that could complete destroy” the European civilization. A large challenge, according to the nationalists are LGBT rights, which are an alleged sign of “Western decadence.”
“You need to be aware of all that,” said instructor Ruslan Andreiko. “All those gender things, all those perversions of modern Bolsheviks who have come to power in Europe and now try to make all those LGBT things like gay pride parades part of the education system.”
Instructor at Ukrainian nationalist youth camp lectures children about what he sees as Western decadence. (AP Video/Mstyslav Chernov)
According to the AP some of the children were not paying attention, however a fair share was. During a break, a teenager played a nationalist march on his guitar. His instrument was decorated with a sticker showing white bombs hitting a mosque, under the motto, “White Europe is Our Goal.”
The schedule at the camp was difficult. Campers were awakened in the middle of the night by a stun grenade. They had to then rapidly come out of their tents, while holding their AK-47s “that were, in some cases, almost as tall as they were.” They were required to carry their assault rifles all day, according to AP a girl even broke out in tears due to exhaustion.
The AP also cited Mykhailo, the oldest camper, at the age of 18. According to him the training was “necessary.”
“Every moment things can go wrong in our country. And one has to be ready for it,” he said. “That’s why I came to this camp. To study how to protect myself and my loved ones”
It appears that the democracy and values that the US and the EU are so strongly attempting to plant the seed of and protect in Ukraine is finally starting to give “fruit.” If an 18-year-old boy considers that “White Europe is Our Goal” means that nothing has “gone wrong” in his country, then maybe, at least the EU needs to rethink its strategy.