Ukraine Claims Russian Military Police Are Destroying Their History Books

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Thursday claimed Russian military police in the occupied territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Chernihiv and Sumy regions are destroying Ukrainian literature and history textbooks from libraries.

A Facebook post from Ukraine's military staff said the Central Intelligence Agency of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported that Russian police units in those regions have removed "historical and artistic literature that does not match the Kremlin propaganda posts." The Facebook message said books being seized include those covering topics such the Maidan Uprising protests of 2013, as well as history books on liberation movements and writings related to the disputed Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine were recognized as independent states by Russia soon before it began military attacks in Ukraine on February 24. Fighting continues in the areas as well as in other territories occupied by Russian forces, while cities such as Mariupol and Kyiv are under almost constant shelling from the Russian military.

Ukraine's General Staff wrote in the Facebook message that books deemed as "extremist" by the Russian "are either removed, destroyed on the spot or taken out in an unknown direction."

 Kramatorsk, Donetsk, Ukraine
This photo shows what is said to be the aftermath of an explosion of a ballistic missile in a residential area in Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on March 14, 2022. Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images

"School textbooks of Ukrainian history, scientific and popular historical literature are related to 'extremist' literature" are being seized, the General Staff wrote.

The Facebook post also included a list of names of Ukrainian heroes and politicians that it said occupants of the regions are allegedly forbidden to say. One book specifically mentioned as being sought out by Russian military police units is The Case of Vasyl Stus by Vakhtanga Kipiani. That non-fiction book details the criminal case of a Ukrainian poet who was imprisoned by the Soviet regime.

In its post, the General Staff included a photograph of Nazi troops and sympathizers burning a pile of books in Berlin in 1933.

The report of the books being destroyed comes a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken officially determined that Russian forces have committed war crimes in their military attacks on Ukraine.

"We've seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities," Blinken said in a statement. "Russia's forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded."

War crimes are defined by the United Nations as violations of international humanitarian law and differentiate the acts from crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already launched an investigation into Russia's actions in Ukraine.

Newsweek reached out to Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment but did not hear back from either in time for publication.