News of Russian soldiers reportedly leaving a looted school in Ukraine.
When Ukrainian forces recaptured Katyuzhanka, a village north of Kiev, which had been under Russian occupation for more than a month, in March, they found the local school in ruins. Non-stolen equipment was smashed, there was a makeshift cemetery in the school yard, and deep ditches were dug across the football field.
Inside one of the destroyed classrooms, a large piece of chalk was written in chalk on a large blackboard hanging on the wall below a portrait of Isaac Newton, signed by students as “Russians.”
The letter reads: “Children, we are sorry for this mess, we tried to save the school, but the bombings happened, live quietly, be careful, do not repeat the mistakes made by your elders. Ukraine and Russia are one! Brothers and sisters!
The message written in Russian against the Ukrainian language – the language of instruction of the school – was one of many that were on the blackboards and whiteboards throughout the building. Read another message, “We are for peace around the world.” CNN cannot independently verify who wrote the news.
Mikola Mikitchik, principal of Katyuzhanka High School, told CNN last month that she felt sick when she saw the news.
“The Russians and the Ukrainians are brothers,” they wrote, while they looted the school, vandalized computers, stole hard drives, took laptops and printers, and left nothing at school! This is barbarism and hypocrisy, “he said.
Mikashik told CNN that three anti-tank mines, several stun grenades and machine gun magazines with bullets were found at the school. The recently redesigned kitchen was completely demolished with new equipment used to feed more than 500 children daily before the war began.
According to an operational update released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense on March 3, Russian troops were in control of Katyushanga at the time, setting up logistics camps there and in other villages in the region.
Katyuzhanka is a small village, but of strategic importance due to its location on one of the main roads leading to Kiev. Satellite images taken in early March revealed a 64-kilometer Russian military convoy of tanks, armored vehicles and towed artillery.
Property damage by Russian troops – and no doubt they were the ones who looted the school – was estimated at about € 160,000, and he said he could not imagine the students ever returning.
“We hope to be friends”
“Everything was taken away. Even the cables were stolen. We had power cables made of copper wire and 100 meters of cable was stolen,” he said.
At the same time, another message left at school was: “Be honest and sincere with each other, help everyone in need. We hope to become friends! We will become doctors, engineers, teachers – peacemakers!”
Following the withdrawal of Russian troops, dozens of messages found in schools in the formerly occupied territories of Ukraine include these notes scrolled on a blackboard in Katyushanga.
In Ukraine, photographs of these news items have become a symbol of atrocities and a major route of Russian aggression.
But in Russia, they developed a very different response when they emerged in April and soon became part of a campaign to portray Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine as a “liberation”.
The Russian news website Lenta.ru published an article about “heartbreaking news for Ukrainian children” left by the Russian military, while the Russian television channel Tsargrad’s website reported “real” news that Ukrainian children should “succeed in your studies”.
Former Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky even shared a photo of the news, saying he “moved” on it.
“Sorry, we do not want this war.”
In the village of Novi Pykiv in the Chernihiv region east of Kiev, director Natalia Vovk found a series of messages written on a blackboard, many of which call for peace and friendship between the Ukrainian and Russian peoples.
Novopikovsky Public High School was badly damaged during the fighting. The roof was badly damaged by the bombing and all the windows were smashed, Vovk told CNN last month.
“The library is damaged. The school books are completely burned, not even a textbook is left. The desks are broken, the equipment is removed, the computers are removed,” he said.
However, in many classrooms, messages calling for peace were left by Russian troops, he said.
“Sorry, we do not want this war. Slavic brothers, you are being deceived. The war is bad, do not fight, children!”, Reads a message written in large letters on a blackboard.
“Let’s live in friendship !!!” It was written on another board, Vovk said. Photo from another classroom shows a board: “We are all Slavs, brothers it is not good to go. [uns contra os outros] With a knife “.
Like Mickey, Vovk now lists the damage done to his school during the occupation.
“We had an interactive dashboard that cost 100,000 hryvnia (€ 3,480) and they stole it. Printers and laptops were stolen. They broke what they could not steal and made unusable,” he said.
Novyi Bykiv School Building is designed like the letter U, which covers the school on three sides. “It was convenient for them, they put a rocket launcher in the center and fired from the center of the school,” Vovk said, adding that the school’s layout and its foundation facilitated the approach of Russian troops. Danger.
“The school has many columns: you can go from one side to the other, they were very comfortable. They even had a dining room there,” he added.
Vovk said he believed some of the news left by Russian troops showed their personal distrust. He said many were expressing anti-war sentiments, calling for at least five messages of friendship.
One inscription reads “we all want to live” in large letters as “live”, he said. Another said, “We do not understand what we are doing here.”
“I think this news shows that they understand misfortune. Maybe they were waiting for death,” he said. “But they also thought about the fact that they would be punished for the wrong they had done.” It was like that [escritor] They wanted to live, have a baby and do everything normally, but after all this they realized they could never go back to normal life, “he said.
“Putin is your president”
At a school in the village of Zdvyzhivka in northwestern Kiev, other types of news were found.
“Putin is your president. Children, read diligently, Russia needs educated citizens,” read a message on a board adorned with children’s drawings depicting different planets in the solar system.
A school official, who wished to remain anonymous about security concerns, said the landmines were discovered on school premises after the Russians left the area in late March.
Under Russian control, the Zdvyzhivka school became the headquarters of the OMON, the special police unit of the Russian National Police, he said. Like Katyuzhanka, Zdvyzhivka is located on one of the main roads from the north to Kiev.
Like the other two schools, all equipment at the Zdvyzhivka school was stolen or destroyed.
“Children’s desks were broken, kindergarten was destroyed, windows were broken.” They stole smart cards and laptops, ”the official said.
“We had a big LCD TV. They could not steal it because it was so big. So they shot it and left it in the classroom,” the employee added.
Another message appeared on a board near the smashed television screen: “Forgive us!”
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