Ukrainian Minister of Youth and Sports Ihor Zhdanov on Thursday said he and his colleagues were unpleasantly stunned by the report published by The Washington Post Nov 12 titled "Training Kids to Kill at Ukrainian Nationalist Camp," and later reposted by several other publications.
The authors of the article claimed the Ministry of Youth and Sports has been allegedly financing radical nationalist organizations – in particular, the article states this year the Ministry of Youth and Sports has allocated UAH 4 million (about US$150,000for a number of youth camps set up by nationalists, in particular, the Sokil youth organization, where they allegedly teach how to kill Russians, and that the Ministry allegedly panders to xenophobia and racism, Minister Ihor Zhdanov complains.
"The information provided in the report is grossly false," the minister wrote on Facebook.
The official lists a number of facts about the ministry's activity, debunking the said allegations.
FACT 1. The Ministry of Youth and Sports has not been funding NGOs. Through project biddings, budget funds are allocated exclusively to support the implementation of projects of public organizations.
Indeed, this year, UAH 4 million was allocated from the ministry's budget in support of such projects as: camping, seminars, and conferences that public organizations organize across Ukraine, and that in one way or another are related to the national patriotic education.
FACT 2. Ternopil's Sokil regional youth organization filed documents for participation in this year's pitch, but its application was rejected, which is stated in the decision of the contest commission:
FACT 3. The bidding for the funding of national-patriotic education projects is conducted transparently. The majority of members of the contest commission are not ministry officials but representatives of the public (the full list of members is included in the relevant order of the ministry No. 2159 of Oct 12, 2011).
This year, the commission selected 30 projects of 19 NGOs.
The projects are selected according to the priorities announced ahead of the pitch.
The selection is carried out in accordance with resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine No. 1049.
FACT 4. During the consideration of projects, the contest commission analyzes them including for xenophobia and discrimination. None of the organizations involved in the illegal activity, including as regards xenophobia, established by a court decision in accordance with Article 62 of the Constitution of Ukraine, was allowed to participate in the bidding.
Incidentally, among the projects submitted, there were several aimed at tackling xenophobia and supporting national minorities in Ukraine, while one of them, namely Together In The Future, had already been implemented by the Congress of National Communities of Ukraine.
The organizations, whose projects are supported by the commission, before budget funds are allocated, concludes with the ministry an agreement, which states: "During the activities under the project implementation, it is required to take measures to prevent xenophobia."
We have also appealed to representatives of national minorities, in particular the Roma community, with the proposal to join the monitoring of all activities funded to identify and prevent xenophobic and racist manifestations.
"Personally, I am proud that since 2015, in close cooperation with NGOs, Ukrainian MPs, other members of the government and the president of Ukraine, we have managed to revive the system of national-patriotic education in our country. It's no secret that before the events of 2013- 2014, any of such manifestations were deliberately ignored," the minister wrote.
Since 2015, over 250,000 young people from different corners of Ukraine took part in over 200 events held by NGOs with the support of the ministry, the official adds.
"It's a shame that the reputable publications 'fell' for a hot topic, without verifying the facts. But on the other hand, this article and those alike are indirect evidence that the national-patriotic education in Ukraine is really growing, because someone is very nervous about the fact that young Ukrainians become more conscious, learn their own history, and realize the challenges facing our state," the minister said.
"All this is evidences the fact that we are doing everything right," Zhdanov wrote.
At the same time, he called on journalists, both Ukrainian and foreign, to engage in "fruitful and honest cooperation."