Parents who remained under the occupation with their children try to resist the Russian occupants and often refuse to send their kids to occupational educational institutions. However, the Russians threaten entire families: «Either the child goes to school, or you will not have a child.»
There is a catastrophic shortage of children in schools under occupation. Ukrainians who are forced to live under Russian rule for personal reasons tell about it. And although education should be voluntary, the invaders have been blackmailing parents for several months in a row to send their children to pro-Russian educational institutions. Sometimes blackmail reaches the level of «we will take your children away.»
«Collaborators try by all means to get children into their schools, even if the parents are against it. They promise to take them on excursions to Russia, to the seashore. There are those who did not succumb to it — they have other methods for us.
For example, less than half of the teachers left to work at the «Impuls» Lyceum and School No. 2 in occupied Troitske (Luhansk oblast). Those who remained there are actively «promoting» the so-called «Luhansk People’s Republic» (LPR) and Russia. Children's documents are not returned. Even photocopies cannot be made, because they prohibit it. If you say that you are going to another institution in the «LPR», you must provide a certificate that this is indeed the case. Documents about children’s studies they do themselves, parents are not even asked for permission. And if you openly say that the kid will not go to such a school, they start threatening," says the mother of one of the schoolchildren, who stayed to live in Troitske.
The situation is the same in the Svatove district in the village of Novovodyane. The threats there have already reached the level when the occupiers declare: if there is no consent from the parents for the child's education, school-aged children will be taken from their families, allegedly due to «improper care» and «unwillingness to give the child an education.»
Similar pressure in Bilokurakyne of Luhansk oblast. The children's personal files are also not given to the parents — so that they cannot leave the occupation with the child, worrying about their future.
As one resident of occupied Enerhodar of Zaporizhzhia oblast told, the occupiers did not officially declare that they would promote «Russkiy mir» for children in 1−4 grades, although the parents understand that knowledge will not be put into their children's heads. In particular, a teacher from Russia, who came to the city to be a class teacher for «first graders», announced that the children would be taught the history of Russia, the Russian language, and mathematics. Those who do not bring their kids to school are threatened with deprivation of parental rights, and the children will be sent to boarding schools in occupied Donetsk oblast.
If the parents try to take the documents from the school in order to leave for the territory controlled by Ukraine, they will face the same threats and blackmail. And documents, by the way, are rarely given.
«In most of the occupied schools, they demand to send children to school. When parents try to collect documents or refuse to send their child to school, the administration directly tells the parents: «You don't want it yourself — the commandant's office will help to explain that the children will go to school!»
And if we don't send our children to the educational institution, they start saying that we are breaking the law, that all schoolchildren should get an education, so it can be a sign that we are not fulfilling our parental responsibilities. We were directly told that if the child does not go to school, he will be taken from us and sent to a boarding school in Russia," Anna (the woman's name has been changed) told «Vchasno» journalists.
The information is also confirmed by Yuliia M., a resident of the occupied Luhansk oblast. The woman confesses: she was openly threatened that the child would be taken away if the woman took the documents from the school and did not submit them to any other «LPR» school. Therefore, the family had to forget about the documents and go to the territory controlled by Ukraine with only those docs, certificates, and diplomas that were at home.
Another resident of Luhansk oblast says that threats «we will take your child» are not the only option. So, for example, he was blackmailed by saying that «specially trained people will come», and before that he was threatened with fines and imprisonment. The last time these «specially trained people» came to them, the following ultimatum sounded: «either you send your child to school, or get out of here». The woman and the child had to leave, and the man remained under occupation because he was taking care of his parents.