The Ukrainian far-right party ‘Svoboda’ is training children as young as eight to use firearms and shoot to kill, getting them ready to fight elusive “Russian aggression,” and stand up to the “perversions” of the West.
The “Temper of will” summer camp – which looks more like a full-fledged boot camp – is located in a forest close to the Dniester river in the western Ukrainian region of Ternopol. The camp is run by the Sokil (Falcon) organization – a militant youth offshoot of the “national-socialist” Ukrainian party Svoboda (Freedom).
For its second season, the camp is welcoming children 13 years and older, according to information posted on its Facebook page. Some of the kids, however, appear to be as young as eight, according to AP, which visited the nationalist installation.
Apart from the advertised games, guitar playing, mountain-climbing, and other traditional summer camp activities, the children are also learning how to kill. The main ‘trick’ is to dehumanize their potential enemy, one of their instructors, veteran of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and leader of the Sokil, Yuri Cherkashin says.
“We never aim guns at people,” AP quoted Cherkashin as saying. “But we don’t count separatists, little green men, occupiers from Moscow, as people. So we can and should aim at them.”
Apart from perceived ‘Russian aggression’ the campers are also taught to stand up to the “decadence” of the West. Instructors tell the children that all the “wrong” in Europe is coming from modern leftists and warn that such “challenges”might “completely destroy” European civilization.
“You need to be aware of all that,” one of the instructors, Ruslan Andreiko says. “All those gender things, all those perversions of modern Bolsheviks who have come to power in Europe and now try to make all those LGBT things like gay pride parades part of the education system.”
While the kids are being indoctrinated with openly far-right views, the installation is not set up solely by the far-right party. The “Temper of will” camp appears to enjoy the full support of the local administration, as the so-called “Youth methodical centre of the Ternopol region” is listed as a co-organizer.
The Svoboda party was founded in Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The organization initially called itself the National-Social party of Ukraine, sporting a Wolfsangel (Wolf Hook) rune variant as its logo. The rune was widely used in Nazi Germany and remains popular among modern neo-Nazis.
The party got rebranded in the early 2000s in order to appear less explicitly like neo-Nazis, getting its current name and a fist with three raised fingers as its symbol, yet the changes were largely cosmetic. While the party holds only six of the 450 seats in the Ukrainian parliament, one of its founding fathers, Andrey Parubiy, enjoys the post of parliament’s chairman.