Be Prepared to Kill or Die for Russia 2. Who Trains Children’s Army of Russia in Crimea

«Young Guard of United Russia». Photo from social media

The Center of Journalist Investigations continues its series of publications about military units for children, created by Russian authorities in occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol. First part of the Center’s investigation focused on regional offices of All-Russian «Young Army», All-Crimean projects «Krympatriotcenter», «Union of Cossack Youth of Crimea and Sevastopol» and local organizations «Syvash», «Kordon-Tarkhankut» and «Yevpatoria Landing Troops». Unfortunately, this list is not exhaustive.

«Movement of the First». Crimean office

Full name of the legal entity is «Regional Office of All-Russian Public-Governmental Movement of Children and Youth «Movement of the First» of the Republic of Crimea».

«Movement of the First» is the revival of Soviet organization of «Young pioneers», sold to Putin under propagandist slogans. Putin is the head of the Supervisory Board of the Movement. According to official legend, in April 2022, Crimean teenager Diana Krasovska asked the President of the Russian Federation to launch All-Russian children’s movement. Respective draft law about creation of organization has been submitted to the Russian State Duma on the 19th of May, on the day of the 100th anniversary of «Young pioneers». Putin signed law «About Russian Movement of Children and Youth» in July 2022. The movement has been called «the Movement of the First». It was reported that Putin preferred Soviet style «pioneers».

Russian teenagers and students are forced to join the Movement. As of the end of 2023, there were almost 5 million members of the organization. «The Movement» enjoys generous governmental financing. Its budget is around 19 billion Rubles.

Crimea office of the Movement has over 14 thousand members and 580 branches in educational institutions, according to its official statistics. Organization is registered in Simferopol, at Roza Luxemburg Street, 15 {it is building of the Simferopol Railway School).

Movement imposes Russian patriotism on children in occupied Ukrainian Crimea. Any events are conducted under super-patriotic slogans, Russian symbols and hatred towards Ukraine. Teenagers are given Russian passports of «the Movement of the First». This ceremony is coupled with public watching of Putin’s speeches.

Handing over Russian passports in school #1 of Krasnoperekopsk. Photo from social media

«Serving Motherland» is one of key spheres of activity of the Movement. Children are taught that protection of Russia is their «sacred obligation». Movement holds meetings with heroes of «special military operation», conducts concerts for them, involves children into collecting assistance for the Russian Armed Forces, making camouflage nets and trench candles.

Movement organizes military games with imitation of real war: «Zarnychka» – for pupils, «Zarnytsia» and «Mirror of history» – for teenagers. Children are trained to shoot and operate drones.

«Zarnytsia» in Petrovska shool #2 in Krasnogvardisk district. Photo from social media

Project «Mirror of history» at WarZone training ground in Crimea. Photo from social media

In September 2023, Canada introduced sanctions against «Movement of the First» for their involvement into deportation of Ukrainian children into Russia and dissemination of fakes and propaganda.

In February 2024, Movement and its head Grigorii Gurov were subjected to EU sanctions for the elimination of identity of Ukrainian children and «military patriotic» activity in occupied Crimea and on territories of Eastern and Southern Ukraine recently occupied by the Russian Federation. Local offices of the Movement were opened on those territories in 2023.

Russian citizen Arlamenkova Yekaterina Yurjevna is the head of Crimean office of the «Movement of the First». In 2015, she moved from Sankt Petersburg to Crimea. Before 2023, Arlamenkova has worked as the manager of «Russian movement of children and youth», predecessor of the «Movement of the First».

Yekaterina Arlamenkova, head of Crimean office of the «Movement of the First». Photo from social media

Sevastopol office of the «Movement of the First» (taxpayer’s number 9200015025) conducts various patriotic events, with Russian occupation authorities and participants of the «special military operation»; involves children into All-Russian military patriotic games «Zarnytsia»; conducts «lessons of courage» and «memory» and promotes all activities within «Serving Motherland».

«Movement of the First» in Sevastopol – lesson about handling of weapons. Photo from social media 

35 years old Ukrainian citizen Molchanova Hanna Stanislavivna is the head of Sevastopol office of the «Movement of the First». She has been pedagogue-organizer and sports trainer of school # 45 and then methodologist of the Palace of children’s and youth creativity of Sevastopol. She graduated from Ukranian universities before the Russian annexation of Crimea and – Slovyansk State Pedagogical University and Cherkasy National University named after Khmelnytsky.

In 2021, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine imposed sanctions on Molchanova for her work in Russian «electoral commission» of Leninsky district of Sevastopol during illegal elections (she has been deputy head of the commission with decisive vote).

Russian collaborator Hanna Molchanova, head of Sevastopol office of the «Movement of the First». Photo from social media

«Young Guard of United Russia», offices in Crimea and Sevastopol

Youth public organization of Russian political party «United Russia» (kind of «komsomol» under USSR – youth organization of the Communist Party) was founded in 2005. Youth «wing» of Putin’s political party supplies participants for political events; mobilizes voters in favor of «approved» candidates etc. Its members often pretend to be civic activists and volunteers.

After Russian full scale invasion into Ukraine, «Young Guard of United Russia» has actively participated in Putin’s military patriotic events in Russia and on occupied territories of Ukraine.

First office of «Young Guard» was set up in Crimea in February 2023. Its activity focuses on support of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Organization conducts military patriotic training for school children, shooting training, patriotic competitions and events like «Ready to serve Motherland», «George ribbon» [military symbol of Putin’s Russia], «Members of Young Guard». Its members collect assistance for the Russian Armed Forces, write letters to heroes of the «special military operation».

Military patriotic competition «Ready to serve Motherland» of «Young Guard of United Russia». Photo from social media

Military tactical training in Simferopol district. Photo from social media

27 years old Morenets Aryna Olegivna has headed Crimean office of «Young Guard» since February 2023. She was born in Crimea. She has been an assistant of Rector on youth policy and patriotic education of so-called «Crimean University of Culture, Arts and Tourism». She is member of political party «United Russia». in 2019, she ran for the «State Council of Crimea».

Russian collaborator Aryna Morenets, head of «Young Guard of United Russia» on temporary occupied territory of Crimea. Photo from social media

Sevastopol office of «Young Guard» is involved into providing direct support of Putin’s war: teenagers make camouflage nets and clothes for Russia soldiers, collect assistance for the Russian Armed Forces, conduct patriotic events and disseminate Z symbols.

Master class for making balaclavas in school #23 in Sevastopol. Photo from social media

Rudenko Oleksandr Yevgeniyovych has headed Sevastopol office of «Young Guard» since 2021. He is resident of Sevastopol and member of political party «United Russia». He sold fishing rods before going into politics. He also organizes performances of local circus.

Collaborator Oleksandr Rudenko. Photo from social media

Oleksandr Rudenko (in red wig). Photo from social media

Military patriotic club «Battalion Outpost», Simferopol

The club was set up in 2018 under local office of «Russian Union of War Veterans». «Battalion Outpost» conducts for children and youth military training, «lessons of courage», meetings with participants of Soviet invasion into Afghanistan, Cossacks and participants of «special military operation». It holds training lessons on handling of weapons and tactical medical aid and military competitions. Children should assemble Kalashnikov rifle, demonstrate their knowledge of Russian military history and commanders, shoulder straps and military titles, Russian troops and military equipment.

Members of «Battalion» are actively involved into providing assistance to Russian soldiers: children make camouflage nets and write letters to participants of «special military operation». They are also involved into production of Russian propagandist TV channel «Krym24», patriotic videos about «Russian Spring» etc.

Trainees of military patriotic club «Battalion Outpost» during competitions. Photo from social media

Trainee of military patriotic club «Battalion Outpost» during training. Photo from social media

Trainees of military patriotic club «Battalion Outpost» make camouflage nets. Photo from social media

Trainees of military patriotic club «Battalion Outpost» during training at the base of Russian police special forces in Simferopol. Photo from social media

23 years old Alina Nikishaeva has been appointed as the head of «Battalion Outpost». She is resident of Simferopol, member of party «United Russia» and «youth parliament of Crimea».

In 2017, she joined «Young Army» and later – the Center of special combat training «Volk» [Wolf]. She completed trainings on hand-to-hand and knife combat, handling of rifles, tactical medical aid and combat tactics.

In 2023, she received certificate of an assistant of the commander of the 147th Simferopol artillery regiment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (military unit # 73966, located in the Russian city of Kalininets, Moscow region).

Collaborator Alina Nikishaeva and her certificate from the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. Photo from social media 

Military patriotic club of young marines «Bagyra», Rozdolne district

The club was set up in 2015 on the basis of secondary school of Kukushkyne village of Rozdolne district. Its trainees participate in the events of «Young Army» and trainings on hand-to-hand combat, shooting etc. The Club conducts military patriotic competitions and tournaments.

Trainees of military patriotic club «Bagyra» at competiion. Photo from social media

Trainees of military patriotic club «Bagyra» at competiion. Photo from social media

Trainees of military patriotic club «Bagyra» at competiion. Photo from social media

Trainees of military patriotic club «Bagyra». Photo from social media

70 years old retired Captain Motyakov Yevgenii Sergeevich is the head of club «Bagyra». He was born in the Russian city of Ryazan. He is the former marine. He participated in the rescue operation at Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

Motyakov also manages «Center for military patriotic training of young marines «Saturn», set up in Kukushkyne in 2020. «Saturn» unites Crimean clubs of «young marines». Co-founders of «Saturn» are Lubov Motyakova (perhaps, his wife) and Yuri Mozolevsky.

Motyakov keeps teaching in Yevpatoria Industrial Schhol. In 2021, he founded military patriotic club «Sparta» there.

Yevgenii Motyakov (left), head of military patriotic club «Saturn». Photo from social media

63 years old Yuri Ivanovich Mozolevsky is co-manager of club «Bagyra». He was born in  the Russian city of Murmansk. He is the former officer of criminal investigation of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. He is also reserve Colonel, president of Crimean Federation of hand-to-hand combat, «head» of occupation council of Kukushkyne and «member of Rozdolne district council» from political party «United Russia».

In 2014, Mozolevsky actively contributed to the Russian occupation of Crimea as member of illegal military unit «Self-Defense of Crimea». He was awarded medal «For protection of Crimea» by Russian «Head of Crimea» Aksyonov.

Yuri Mozolevsky, member of illegal military unit «self-defense of Crimea». Photo:

Military patriotic club «Patriot», Yevpatoria

Club «Patriot» was founded in 2016. The club offers the following training for children: «course of young soldier»; running long distances (15-18 km); «making camp, switching on antenna, destroying camp of enemy and finding pilot». The club conducts tactical games and trains handling of weapons and hand-to-hand combat.

«We train children to enter military schools, schools of Russian ministries of internal affairs and emergency situations. They join «Young Army», as informs an account of «Patriot» in social media.

Children are awarded for their participation in military training. They salute the commander and say «I serve Russia!».

Awarding trainees of military patriotic club «Patriot» after training in mountains. Photo from social media

Training in military patriotic club «Patriot», Yevpatoria. Photo from social media

Club «Patriot» has been headed by Pikiner Dmytro Volodymyrovych, teacher of sports in Yevpatoria school # 7. Before 2017, he has been taxi driver. He fought in the «special military operation» as contracted soldier in 2022. Today he visits schools and tells children about his «heroic actions».

Pikiner sent letter to Aksyonov and asked money for his participation in the war against Ukraine. In May 2023, Pikiner received «certificate of war veteran». He complained in social media that he spent almost one year to get it.

Collaborator Dmytro Pikiner, participant of the Russian invasion into Ukraine. Photo from social media

Certificate of the «veteran of war» of Dmytro Pikiner. Photo from social media

Vladyslav Pikiner, son of Dmytro, has also participated in military training of Yevpatoria children. With help of his friends, he organized «Patriotic marathon «Zaryad». The Russian Federal Agency for Youth Affairs awarded him a grant «to increase knowledge of 14-20 years youth about extremism and terrorism» and «to involve teenagers into military patriotic training». Participants of «Zaryad» will give lectures in educational institutions, conduct cyber-sports tournament, sports marathon and laser-tag game from April till June 2024.

Vladyslav Pikiner, participant of military organization. Photo from social media

Sports military patriotic club of military hand-to-hand combat «Pobeda» [Victory], Sevastopol

The club was founded in 2017. Recruitment starts from five years old children. The club organizes the following training and events: military and universal hand-to-hand combat, military training, shooting competitions, military patriotic games (shooting, throwing grenades, assembling Kalashnikov, semaphore code, overcoming obstacles, medical aid etc). Trainees of «Pobeda» participate in the initial military training and city «patriotic events».

Shooting competition of trainees of military patriotic sports club «Pobeda». Photo from social media

In 2023, Putin’s Fund of presidential grants allocated half a million Rubles to the club for the project «Strengthening physical force and patriotic spirit of school children of Sevastopol «Future defender of Motherland». The project was aimed at increasing number of trainees, conducting «lessons of courage», patriotic tours, shooting tournaments and military training.

Trainees of military patriotic sports club «Pobeda», celebrating the Day of Officer. Photo from social media

Competition of trainees of military patriotic sports club «Pobeda». Photo from social media

46 years old resident of Sevastopol Igor Volodymyrovych Novykov is the head of club «Pobeda». Former paratrooper, he is the president of Federation of military hand-to-hand combat of Sevastopol.

In accordance with database of Ukrainian Center «Myrotvorets» [Peacekeeper], Novykov (call sign «Buga») participated in the Russian war against Ukraine as member of Private Military Company «Wagner».

Igor Novykov, participant Private Military Company «Wagner», head of military club «Pobeda». Photo from social media

According to experts’ opinion, teenagers who were brainwashed by Russian propaganda and trained in military units, are more likely to participate in the Russian war against Ukraine.

Russian military machine for children in occupied Crimea has already brought about negative outcomes: trainees of numerous «clubs» and «center» join Russian Armed Forces. For example, Sevastopol office of «Young Guard of United Russia» promotes its member Semen Yushkov who concluded military contract despite his age…

Semen Yushkov, contracted soldier of the Russian Armed Forces in Sevastopol. Photo from social media

The Center of Journalist Investigations keeps collecting information about children’s military units in occupied Crimea and those who militarize children and make them die for the glory of Putin’s Russia.