Virtual museum of Russian aggression.

Virtual museum of Russian aggression.



A hub of Ukrainian enlightenment

The educational facility known as the Ukrainian Gymnasium School was founded in Simferopol in 1997 by the initiative and with the support of the activists representing the Ukrainian community in Crimea. This exemplary Ukrainian-language educational institution worked closely with the Research Institute of Ukrainian Studies, the Ukrainian Humanities Lyceum of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, and other elite educational institutions of the country. The Ukrainian studies, development and self-development of the child were made the fundamental principles of the gymnasium.

Natalia Rudenko, a highest category teacher and curriculum developer, an honors teacher of Ukraine, an eminent educator of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Ukraine, was the head teacher of the gymnasium ever since its foundation. For several early years the school worked in the buildings not exactly suitable for a school, a former German church or former kindergartens, but even then it could not accommodate all who wanted to study in the Ukrainian language. In 2004, under the hospices of the President of Ukraine, a new special-purpose building was built for the gymnasium.

Two years later, the educational institution was listed among the Top 100 schools in Ukraine. The best library among the schools of the Crimean capital was opened here, and it often hosted all-Ukrainian, Crimean and city events for schoolchildren and teachers. The gymnasium gradually became a prominent center of cultural life of the capital city of the ARC. It was the only general educational institution in Simferopol where the educational and nurturing processes were carried out in the Ukrainian language.

The gymnasium was very popular with the residents of Simferopol. The admission was competitive, with up to eight children claiming each seat. By the time of the occupation of Crimea, about 950 students attended this school, although the premises had been designed to hold 672 only.

Destruction of the best gymnasium

On 04/10/2014, a few dozen people picketed the Ukrainian gymnasium, claiming to be parents of the students and representatives of the so-called "self-defense". Later on, Ilya Glazkov, the self-proclaimed vice mayor of Simferopol, and Tatiana Sukhina, so-called "head of the education department of the Executive Committee of Simferopol", would pay a visit to the head teacher of the gymnasium. They would threaten to have Natalia Rudenko fired with a cause unless she signed a letter of resignation by mutual consent.

Just a day before, Natalia Goncharova, the illegitimate minister of education of the Republic of Crimea, said on a talk show on one of the Crimean TV channels that the so-called "ministry" reached an "internal agreement" to convert the Ukrainian gymnasium into a Russian-language school. The head teacher stood for preservation of the status of the gymnasium, but, under duress, she had to write a letter of resignation.

In April 2014, the parents' committee of the gymnasium turned to the leadership of the self-proclaimed Republic of Crimea, demanding that the order terminating the employment of the head teacher be revoked. In their opinion, such a decision posed a threat to the existence of the educational institution in its current status and to the composition of its teaching staff, violating the children’s right to get education in the Ukrainian language. The parents pointed out that even the so-called "Constitution of the Republic of Crimea" proclaimed Ukrainian to be one of state languages. The protest was to no avail.

In May 2014, Tatiana Sukhina announced that 3/4 of the classes in the gymnasium would be taught in the Russian language. Within few months, the educational facility called the Ukrainian Gymnasium School would lose its Ukrainian-language status and was illegally converted into the so-called "Simferopol Academic Gymnasium".

By the beginning of the new academic year, in September 2014, there was not a single Ukrainian-language first class there. Subsequently, cadet classes appeared in the gymnasium which would prepare the Crimean youth for the service in the occupation army. The chairman of the illegitimate "State Council of the Republic of Crimea" Vladimir Konstantinov. joined the board of trustees of the gymnasium.

Russian education standards

Since the fall of 2014, the entire education system in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea has been forcibly converted to Russian curricula and standards. The occupation authorities responsible for education immediately introduced a purposeful policy seeking to wipe out the Ukrainian civic identity and militarize the educational process.

The history of Ukraine is no longer taught in Crimean schools. The Ukrainian language and literature are either not studied or made optional. According to the so-called Constitution of the Republic of Crimea adopted in April 2014, Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar are the state languages within the republic. However, according to explanations of the so-called "Ministry of Education of the Republic of Crimea" No. 01-14/382 dated 06/25/2014, "teaching and learning the state languages of the Republic of Crimea (Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar) should not be carried out to the detriment of teaching and learning the state language of the Russian Federation", which is, unsurprisingly, Russian.

Representatives of the occupation administration often pressure the parents to waive education in the Ukrainian and the Crimean Tatar languages. Teachers of the Ukrainian language and literature are forced to undergo retraining and to teach the Russian language and literature instead. Those who do not comply are fired.

Some educational institutions named after prominent Ukrainian figures are renamed. This is exactly what happened to secondary school No. 20 of Feodosia city council (Prymorske township) that has lost the name of the poetess Olena Teliha.

In 2014, the Department of History of Ukraine and the Department of Ukrainian Philology of the Tavrida National V.I. Vernadsky University were liquidated. Eventually, the invaders have unlawfully merged this educational institution with several other Simferopol universities and renamed it into the V.I.Vernadsky Crimean Federal University.


The concept of Russian education

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Formally, according to the statements of the occupation administration, one school in Crimea will, allegedly, retain its Ukrainian-language status. However, according to the Russian law, students in final years of secondary school are to be taught exclusively in the Russian language. According to the monitoring data collected by human rights activists, the Ukrainian language is practically excluded from the teaching and nurturing process in other classes as well.

According to Eskender Bariev, member of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, more than half of the schools in Crimea that used to have a Crimean Tatar-speaking status before the Russian occupation were turned into Russian-speaking or bilingual. Senior high school students will be taught in Russian even in the institutions that formally have preserved their former language status. The number of hours for studying the Crimean Tatar language was reduced as well. The occupants would thwart any attempt to introduce the Latin script of the Crimean Tatar language into the educational process.

On 01/16/2017, Ukraine filed a lawsuit with the UN International Court of Justice in the Hague against the Russian Federation for violation of the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which, among other things, will address the matter of restrictions imposed on the teaching in the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages. On 04/19/2017, the court made a ruling in this case, particularly obliging Russia to make arrangements for education in the Ukrainian language. The occupying state ignored this ruling and continued the violation of international law.

In its special statement, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine qualified the forced resignation of Natalia Rudenko, head teacher of the Ukrainian gymnasium, as an unprecedented event and an act of repression perpetrated by the occupation structures and the self-proclaimed authorities of the Crimean Peninsula, and as a manifestation of the persecution of Ukrainian schools and teachers. Following the forced resignation, Natalia Rudenko moved to Kyiv where she carried on with her beloved pedagogical work.

Published on 2021-09-01

Andriy Ivanets, PhD in History


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