Years after a wave of independent media articles and analysts began detailing the neo-Nazi roots and ideology of some of the chief Ukrainian paramilitary groups behind the Kiev putsch in 2014, a rare Associated Press article has spotlighted a Ukrainian summer camp that teaches kids to hate and kill pro-Russian Ukrainians.
The AP story begins shockingly enough:
The campers, some clad in combat fatigues, carefully aim their assault rifles. Their instructor offers advice: Don’t think of your target as a human being.
So when these boys and girls shoot, they will shoot to kill.
The Ukrainian far-right party ‘Svoboda’ is hosting the camp called the "Temper of Will" where children as young as eight receive weapons training while being indoctrinated against "Russian aggression" as well as the "perversions" of the West like diversity and multiculturalism. Among the slogans the AP documented the children being exposed to include “White Europe is Our Goal.”
But perhaps the only truly shocking thing is that the mainstream would actually dive deep on a subject that exposes some of the very groups that receive both political and in some cases military support from the United States and Europe.
After all, the very militia running what is essentially a neo-Nazi and anti-Russian xenophobic camp is under a political party that holds seats in the Ukrainian parliament, while Andrey Parubiy - political leader of Svobada is the parliament’s chairman.
“We never aim guns at people,” instructor Yuri “Chornota” Cherkashin was quoted by the AP as teaching the campers. “But we don’t count separatists, little green men, occupiers from Moscow, as people. So we can and should aim at them.” The AP observed instructors explicitly teaching children that they should seek to wipe out pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists.
Campers endure military boot camp style drills with formal survivalist classes and nationalist lessons in between, which further involves at times being woken in the middle of the night with blasts from stun grenades, and being expected to carry heavy AK-47 assault rifles all day.
The AP captured raw footage of the youth training at the camp in western Ukraine:
One camper told the AP his purpose at the Svoboda sponsored camp was to "To study how to protect myself and my loved ones.” The AP confirmed that such camps have received official funding from the government's Ministry of Youth and Sports in order to receive a "national patriotic education" (more American tax dollars at work perhaps?).
Attempting to distance itself from the outright neo-Nazi slogans and ideology advanced at such camps, Ministry spokeswoman Natalia Vernigora claimed the money was distributed by a panel which looks for “signs of xenophobia and discrimination, [but] it doesn’t analyze activities of specific groups.”
Camp courses include preaching against the "decadence" of the West, according to the AP footage:
The timing of the AP's rare coverage is interesting as it comes at a moment when Washington is quietly increasing the quantity the lethal weapons and military supplies given to Ukraine.
Unfortunately, however, we don't expect such a bombshell story to continue driving headlines or make it onto prime time CNN coverage.