School bus brings pupils from the military garrisons in the Pechenga region to the Korzunovo children school. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Back to school: At least 1,274 Murmansk kids have fathers fighting, dead or injured in Ukraine

Indoctrination, flag raising ceremony, patriotic lessons, no social media access and two free hot meals to pupils whose fathers are dead, injured or still fighting in Russia’s war on Ukraine. The start of the school year in Murmansk will be different than before.
September 01, 2022


September 1 is return to school. A big event, known as Knowledge Day in Russia. First graders are dressed up in their best and bring in flowers for the teachers. This year, however, authorities have prepared schools to justify the country’s war in Ukraine and patriotism to the dictatorship.

On August 31, a short day before startup, Murmansk Regional Duma unanimously passed a law imposing state regional and municipal schools to provide two free hot meals to schoolchildren and students whose parents are participating in what the legislators call the ‘special military operation’. The politicians underline that the social benefits also include children of soldiers killed or injured. 

Other kids do not get the privileges. 

“This year, 1,274 children will be able to use the benefit [two free hot meals], and the budget provides for 12,3 million rubles for these purposes,” the regional Duma reported after adopting the bill. 

Maybe by negligence, but the politicians in the regional parliament could by the announcement have violated the federal law which states that it is illegal to disseminate (circulate) any information about numbers of troopers and whereabouts in military operations.

Murmansk region has about 700,000 inhabitants, the fertility rate [2019] is 1,44 and the army had until late May an age limit of 18-40 years for professional soldiers. A majority of the warriors fighting the war are younger age and have no children, or children younger than school age. The region has about 80,000 pupils and students at colleges. 

With this, it is not too difficult to calculate how many soldiers Murmansk has sent to the bloody onslaught on the neighbouring country.  


The law on an extra free hot meal includes all vocational schools and colleges on the Kola Peninsula. 

The Barents Observer has previously reported about hundreds of killed soldiers from the Arctic regiments in the Pechenga valley in the Murmansk region, as well as a Northern Fleet sabotage-reconnaissance group being eliminated. Recently, a new mixed volunteer battalion from Murmansk was sent to the war in Ukraine. 

In July, Governor Andrei Chibis announced that he will give 100,000 rubles in cash to any “Arctic patriots” signing contract to participate.

The August 31 meeting of the regional Duma voted in favor of providing participants in the ‘special military operation’, as well as their spouses, with a cash-payment of 1,5 million rubles if they chose to participate in the program to build individual residential houses.


The deputies in Murmansk regional parliament adopted the new laws providing social supports to families of participants in the war on Ukraine at an extraordinary meeting on August 31. Photo: Press Center of the regional Duma


New patriotic lessons are added to all schools across the country. Entitled “conversations about important things”, the classes will deliver propaganda to the kids in different formats, depending on age. 

A particular aim seems to have the children understand the goals of the so-called ‘special military operation’ and why it is important to include the occupied puppet republics of Donetsk and Luhansk under the Russian umbrella. 

The Ministry of Education has published an online series of patriotic packages for first graders to 11th graders to be used in education. Mandatory or not, the classes will take place every Monday from now until the end of November.

From the age of 10, school kids can be taught about the ‘special military operation’ and the Ukrainian territories’ return to mother Russia.

A new chapter to the textbook on history is also to be added, state-operated news agency TASS recently reported via Telegram.

The chapter is about Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, according to First Vice-Speaker of the Federation Council, Andrei Turchak. He has already discussed the issue with Minister of Education, Sergei Kravtsov, TASS reported.

Flag and anthem  

Also, on a direct order by dictator Vladimir Putin, schools will raise the tricolor flag and perform the national anthem every Monday.

Pupils in class, Murmansk. Photo: Thomas Nilsen


“The national flag, like the unfading Red Banner of Victory, serves to educate the young generations in the values of patriotism, citizenship and responsibility for the future of the Motherland,” Putin was quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda.

“From September 1 this year, the school week at all schools in the country will begin with a solemn ceremony of raising the flag and singing the anthem,” the dictator added.

Mobile phones banned 

For pupils and students to search true information as an alternative to totalitarian propaganda is also made more difficult with the start of the new school year.

On Wednesday, Minister of Education Sergei Kravtsov announced that his ministry has banned the use of mobile phones during school hours, state-controlled news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The minister argues that phones distract from education. At the same time, Kravtsov made clear that there are no plans to use any electronic textbooks and notebooks in schools.


Pupils can no longer go online privately searching for alternative information during school hours. Photo: Thomas Nilsen




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