Ukraine-Russia: A Russian government official argued on Twitter with a Ukrainian journalist over the “Russification” of the Mariupol school
Anastasiia Lapatina, writer for the Kyiv Independent, claimed that Russia had brought 5,000 textbooks on Russian history, language and literature to a school in Mariupol, which is under occupation – and said it was of an attempt to “Russify” Ukrainian children.
Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, mocked her because she was “worried that the children of Mariupol now have a chance to have a good education” and “won’t be zombies” by Ukrainian nationalists.
Mariupol was largely destroyed by the Russian invasion, with the local Ukrainian government claiming that up to 90% of the buildings were damaged by the shelling. The town was finally retaken by Russian forces last month after a bloody battle for control of the Azovstal steelworks where the last remaining Ukrainian fighters were sheltering alongside thousands of civilians.
Ms. Lapatina wrote: “Russia brought 5,000 textbooks on Russian history, language and literature to one of the schools in Mariupol. All Ukrainian materials have been removed. Amid rubble and corpses, the occupiers plan to Russify children in some schools over the summer to prepare them for the next school year.
“It is terrifying and deeply tragic. As always, Russia is aiming for the heart of our national identity because it simply cannot stand it. It simply cannot stand a free, democratic and prosperous Ukraine.”
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Mr. Polyanskiy replied: “Translation from Ukrainian: The lady is worried that the children of Mariupol now have a chance to get a good education and not be zombies by the nationalists and learn that the Jews, the French, Portuguese, etc. are descendants of Ukraine.
He then posted a picture of a textbook in Ukrainian that details how languages are influenced by migration, saying there are links between Ukrainian and Sanskrit. He also says that “according to one theory, the Indo-European language group originated in the modern territory of Ukraine”.
Mr. Polyanskiy added: “A copy of the Ukrainian manual in confirmation of my words. It’s very good that the children of Mariupol are no longer zombies and weakened by this kind of “manuals”
Last month, Ukrainian MP Nikita Poturaev, chairman of the Humanitarian Policy and Information Committee, warned that Russian soldiers were looting homes and destroying books and literature in the Ukrainian language.
“We have dozens of testimonies that all Ukrainian-language literature is deliberately destroyed,” he said.
In some occupied areas, Russia introduced the ruble as currency and replaced Ukrainian television and radio with Russian broadcasts.
The Kremlin has claimed that Russian speakers in Ukraine have faced discrimination and persecution under the government led by President Volodymyr Zelensky – a charge Ukraine has long denied. Many citizens of eastern Ukraine, where Russian is more common, said that they use Russian and Ukrainian interchangeably in their daily lives and have not encountered any problems.