The Daily Telegraph

Russian teachers sent to help occupation forces may face jail

- By Joe Barnes

RUSSIAN teachers sent to Ukraine to teach a Kremlin-mandated curriculum face up to 12 years in jail after being detained in liberated towns in the north-east of the country.

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, has warned that the captured civilians would not be put forward for prisoner exchanges because they are not combatants.

Moscow had promised hundreds of teachers financial incentives to travel to occupied Ukraine before the new school year to “re-educate” children as part of its programme to “Russify” the occupied country.

Kyiv has confirmed its police detained a number of them for “violating warfare laws and customs” after Ukrainian troops liberated vast swathes of the Kharkiv region.

“They have committed a crime against our nation,” Ms Vereshchuk said. “We warned Russian citizens who agreed to come and get involved into illegal activities here many times.

“The court will decide their fate. There are still many Russian nationals in our country … and they will also face harsh punishment should they not leave immediatel­y.”

She added that Kyiv would not treat the teachers as prisoners of war, and that Ukrainian school staff who agreed to teach Russia’s curriculum would face collaborat­ion charges.

“The Geneva convention­s do not imply exchanging non-combatants,” she added.

Moscow’s education ministry initially denied claims that Russian teachers had been arrested in the Kharkiv Oblast, insisting that only Ukrainian teachers had been working there.

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