Russia has promised hundreds of teachers large sums of money so that they will travel to occupied Ukraine in the coming school year and teach the students there the Russian perspective on history in class.

For a whopping 8,600 rubles a day, the Russian government wants to persuade teachers to travel to the Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhia and Cherson in the summer months: “The aim is to prepare the schools for the new school year. Transport there and back – free of charge. Room and board – under discussion,” says the urgent message from a school director in Chuvashia. The Kremlin is behind this offer: With a “corrected education,” the Russian view of history is to be taught to the students. Another attempt by the Kremlin is his to spread propaganda also in Ukraine.

For some teachers, the offer seems tempting: In Chuvashia, a republic about 400 miles east of Moscow, the salary offer is met with enthusiasm. The average monthly salary in the region is just about $550. Many teachers here could urgently use the equivalent of $2,900 per month.

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After the first offer in a chat group for teachers, the school director writes an hour later that the occupied regions are safe: “Dear teachers, is there anyone else who would like to help colleagues? In these regions it is safe. Please respond quickly.” The requests were sent to the Washington Post by the Alliance of Teachers, an independent group in Russia.

One member of the group was initially interested due to the high remuneration. However, after warnings from other members, the interested teacher changed his mind. “These trips will not lead to anything good,” said the teacher, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

For around 250 teachers, however, the offer was apparently lucrative enough: They are said to have signed up for the trip to Ukraine. According to the Washington Post, this emerges from a list on the website of the Dagestan Ministry of Education that is no longer accessible. Their targets include the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, Zaporizhia and Kherson.

One of them is Georgy Grigoriyev: he primarily applied because of the tempting salary. He’s not worried, he replied to the Washington Post in an interview: “They promise very good salaries and accommodation. And I thought, ‘Why not?’ I’m divorced, my children are grown, so I can work there too, especially for such a good salary.” He will teach the Russian language, chemistry and biology there. He plans to stay there for at least a year, if not even forever, Grigoriyev tells the Washington Post.

In the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, there are increasing reports of attempts by Moscow to russify. The Kremlin’s apparent goal: to rob Ukrainians of their sense of history, national identity and language. Children are now also the focus of Moscow. Russian Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov told a meeting of Putin’s party on June 28: “Ukrainian education needs to be corrected.” Moreover, Kravtsov tells Russian journalists that Russia will stay in the region forever.

After Russian student teachers arrived in Ukraine earlier this month, Kravtsov said the first batch of Russian textbooks had arrived. “Ukrainian children must be brought up in the traditions of friendship with the Russians. The result will be our happy children,” said Krawzow during his visit to the north-east of the country.

In Russia, too, the education system is currently being revised: the younger generation is to become more patriotic. The main purpose of history textbooks is to force Putin’s view that Ukraine was never a real state onto children. And that’s not all: from September, Russian teachers will have to hold new classes in which, based on government guidelines, children should learn about the war in Ukraine. Putin’s propaganda in Ukraine is disturbingly reminiscent of the Soviet era under Joseph Stalin. Even then, Russian workers were sent to the annexed regions to level the territories.

However, a teacher from St. Petersburg doubts that Russian history classes will be successful in Ukraine: “Those who depend on you can pretend to believe you under the threat of being killed or punished. But deep down in their hearts, they won’t believe you and they will wait for any opportunity for revenge,” she told the Washington Post. She wishes to remain anonymous as she fears being jailed otherwise.

Meanwhile, Russian state propaganda is gaining the upper hand in the occupied territories: the mobile phone network and the media are blocked in the areas in order to spread Russian state propaganda through all channels. Even Ukrainian place-name signs are being removed and replaced by Russian signs.

Putin’s plan goes so far that Ukrainians across the country are being urged to have Russian passports issued. Referendums are to be held in September on the “annexation” of the occupied territories to Russia. The official language could then even be changed to Russian.

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