Teachers from the recently liberated Ukrainian cities spoke about being under the rule of the occupiers for six months. The Russians burned “unusable” textbooks, destroyed the schools themselves, liquidated the works of art of students, paintings and posters of Ukrainian writers and historical and cultural figures. Then they forced the teachers themselves to teach in Russian. The headmistress of a Balakleya school, 60, was tortured after she refused to help build a new Russian school. “They put a gun to my neck and tore my teacher’s diploma in front of me,” recalls Lidia Tilnova.
Lydia was detained by the Russians for 19 days after she refused to comply with the demands of the occupiers to create a new institution. “I was detained when I tried to escape from Kharkiv,” she told the BBC. “A car drove up to me, and three men with machine guns got out of it.” she was placed in solitary confinement for five days. “My soul ached. I thought no one knew where I was,” she added.
The invaders beat her several times and forced her to kneel before them. “They tried to force me to learn the text of the Russian anthem, but I refused,” Lydia said. The Russians often assured her that she would soon be executed.
She built a network of students from the basement
Even director Lilia Sirousova did not escape the pressure of the Russians. The invaders gave her a list of 2200 books, which she should have destroyed, but instead took them from the school library and hid them. The official library was gradually replenished with literature according to the new program of the Russian language, hundreds of textbooks on the Russian language and history. No one went into Lilia’s secret library for six months, until the village was liberated by the Ukrainian army.
“At the beginning of the school year, we were told that our students we must teach that Ukraine is the territory of Russia, called Little Russia. deputy director In Mandrykova told reporters. In was one of the teachers who refused to cooperate with the Russians. After leaving her position, she continued her work in an underground cellar lit only by candles.
She developed a new online lesson program that she shared with teachers from all over Ukraine and Europe. Together with the rest, In succeeded build a network of nearly a hundred students from different parts of the occupied country.