Ukraine says Russian military police are destroying its history books

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The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Thursday that Russian military police in the occupied territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Chernihiv and Sumy regions were destroying Ukrainian literature and history textbooks from libraries.

A Facebook post from the Ukrainian General Staff said that the Central Intelligence Agency of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reported that Russian police units in these regions had deleted “historical and artistic literature that does not correspond to the posts Kremlin propaganda”. The Facebook post said the books seized include those covering topics such as the 2013 Maidan uprising protests, as well as history books on the liberation movements and writings related to the disputed regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine were recognized as independent states by Russia shortly before it launched military attacks in Ukraine on February 24. Fighting continues in the regions as well as in other territories occupied by Russian forces, while cities like Mariupol and kyiv are under almost constant bombardment by the Russian army.

The Ukrainian General Staff wrote in the Facebook post that books deemed “extremist” by the Russians “are either removed, destroyed on the spot, or taken in an unknown direction”.

This photo shows what are said to be the aftermath of a ballistic missile explosion in a residential area of ​​Kramatorsk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on March 14, 2022.
Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images

“School textbooks of Ukrainian history, scientific and popular historical literature are linked to ‘extremist’ literature” are seized, writes the staff.

The Facebook post also included a list of names of Ukrainian heroes and politicians that the occupiers of the regions were reportedly prohibited from saying. A book specifically mentioned as being wanted by Russian military police units is The case of Vasyl Stus by Vakhtanga Kipiani. This non-fiction book details the criminal case of a Ukrainian poet who was imprisoned by the Soviet regime.

In its message, the General Staff included a photograph of Nazi troops and sympathizers burning a stack of books in Berlin in 1933.

The report on the destruction of the books comes a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken officially determined that Russian forces committed war crimes during their military attacks on Ukraine.

“We have seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities,” Blinken said in a statement. “Russian forces destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping malls and ambulances, killing or injuring thousands of innocent civilians.”

War crimes are defined by the United Nations as violations of international humanitarian law and distinguish acts from crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already opened an investigation into Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Newsweek contacted the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment, but received no response in time for publication.

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