Ukrainian authorities train peacekeepers and mediators for future work with the population of de-occupied territories
On March 4, a new government begins work in Ukraine, in which a separate ministry for the occupied territories will be restored. And on March 2 in Kiev, a new state TV channel “Dom” was presented, created for broadcasting to the occupied territories of Donbass and Crimea. The day before, he began broadcasting in test mode with the broadcast of the match of the Ukrainian football championship of two clubs-displaced persons from the occupied cities – “Zarya” (Lugansk) played with the club “Olympic” (Donetsk).
The ministry and the TV channel should become part of the program of influence on those living in the temporarily uncontrolled Ukrainian territories. Meanwhile, the process of preparing to work with the local population after their liberation began in the country almost simultaneously with the war in 2014 and has not stopped to this day..
A freelance correspondent for the Voice of America Russian Service attended a peacekeeping training in Kiev and Kharkov, and also spoke with a psychologist from Mariupol who works in the villages of the “gray” zone scattered along the front line.
From the first months after the start of the war in Ukraine, specialists are being trained to work with various categories of the population of the occupied territories – peacekeepers, mediators, negotiators, officers of military-civil cooperation, psychologists to work with the consequences of combat trauma.
Army officers from the Civil-Military Cooperation Service initially copied the experience of NATO and the US Army, which has deployed Civil-Military Cooperation centers in all conflicts since Iraq in 1991. The NATO standard was formed by 1997, the Ukrainians reworked it in a very creative way. Their “tsimiks” (as the people call the officers of the Civil-Military Cooperation service) do not study for long, but many more servicemen pass through the two-week courses, since the composition of the service is variable – after a four-month rotation, officers who have received the practice of working with the population return to their units. The Ukrainian military does not need to learn the languages, history and customs of the population of the host countries for a long time, they are fighting on their land.
In Kiev, at the Department of Sociology of the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, since September 2017, a one-year course of training of masters of mediators and negotiators has been running, who then find work mainly in international organizations in the conflict zone..
In addition to government and military, there are training courses for mediators, social mediators, peace engineers and psychologists for international charitable organizations that provide assistance in the war zone..
Engineers of the world
Karl Plesner is a citizen of Denmark, he worked as a negotiator in the police of his country from 2010 to 2014, in the fall of 2014 he tried to reconcile the protesters and the special units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs “Berkut” in Kiev, later worked in the war zone in the territories not controlled by Ukraine in the Luhansk region as a negotiator of the Monitoring Mission OSCE in Ukraine. During the breaks, he managed to learn in the USA the methods of negotiations with the American police terrorists..
Karl Plessner at work in the school selection "Engineers of the world" in the suburbs of Kiev
Now Karl is one of the trainers at the Space of Dignity Ukrainian Center for Nonviolent Communication and Reconciliation. A freelance correspondent for the Russian service of the Voice of America met him at a three-day seminar to select participants for the fifth enrollment of students in the School of Engineers of Mutual Understanding
There are 21 applicants, 15 of them will be selected for study. The selected will spend five training modules for nine days in a rented large house in one of the suburbs of Kiev, study intensively at home, undergo practical training.
“Americans are very good at doing certain things,” Karl Plesner tells them measuredly. – For example, there is a person who decided to rob a bank, the alarm went off, the police arrived quickly, and the robber is forced to take hostages. So he says: “Give me a million dollars, a helicopter, otherwise I will kill the hostages!” The Americans have brought the technology of negotiations with such people to perfection. They never make concessions, they don’t say: “You can’t get a million, let it be 500 thousand and not a helicopter, but a car!” – they are just negotiating for the invader to lay down arms without any conditions! (I want you to think about Russia all the time here, I don’t want to condemn Putin as a bad person, but I want Russia to leave Crimea and Donbass).
Long ago, in the early 70s, a police commander would have stood and shouted at a robber into a loudspeaker, would have counted down: “We will rush in and kill you!” – then the special forces would break into the bank (here I want you to remember about Beslan and the storming of a school with children, captured by terrorists). Now the Americans have developed a coherent system of negotiating the release of the hostages and two out of three terrorists lay down their arms without shooting and conditions. The terrorist continues to live, people continue to live and the police are not injured and killed … This is an interesting experience and an interesting technique, and I thought it would be good to apply it in Ukraine! “
Over the years, 75 people have been trained at the School, 27 “engineers of the world” left the training with a special “green” certificate and a recommendation for working with destructive conflicts, almost everyone has a profile on the website.
To begin with, helping people from the occupied territories
The Ukrainian Peacekeeping School (UMSh) has a center in Kharkov and forms a network of its alumni throughout Ukraine, with an emphasis on Donbass and the neighboring Kherson region of Crimea. From the first day, cadets for the “school of social mediators” were selected from leaders of public organizations, government officials from social services, psychologists, journalists, veterans of the war with Russia. Traditionally, many of these people are migrants from the uncontrolled territories of Ukraine, expressing a desire to return there after liberation, there are several graduates who came to study from Crimea.
Among the School teachers, the coordinator of the international network for the prevention of armed conflicts (GPPAC) Andrey Kamenshchikov, one of the founders of Polish Solidarity Zbigniew Buyak, head of the Ukrainian Center for Middle East Studies Igor Semyvolos.
Zbigniew Buyak teaching at the School of Social Mediators, Kharkiv, Ukraine
“In our School of Social Mediators there were five graduations, there was also a zero one, which was called the Ukrainian Peacekeeping School, in total we trained 135 specialists during these six years of war,” says Natalya Zubar, UMSh coordinator. – Our selection principles are well-established, this year we selected people who would represent a formal or informal interest group, who want to influence managerial decision-making, are ready to share our experience and involve people in joint activities – our people should be ready for dialogue with power and long-term systematic work. At the beginning of the last School, we selected cadets from 154 candidates for 25 places “.
UMSh graduates maintain contacts, act as a kind of network, in the history of the school there is an experience of a large two-day game of building an action strategy after the liberation of Lugansk. The game was held in Severodonetsk, Luhansk region. The projects of UMSh graduates are very diverse.
Ukraine, Russia prepare for peace talks after years of war
“Every Ukrainian university has students from the occupied territories and they face a sufficient number of problems, starting with adaptation, socialization, interaction with the authorities to obtain a heap of documents confirming their status – these are all our children who have lived in the uncontrolled territory for six years! – this is how Elena Znatkova, a graduate of the 1st School of Social Mediators, begins to talk about her project. – Therefore, there is an idea of creating a patronage service for such students, while recruiting these tutors (English tutor – mentor, tutor, teacher – editor’s note) will be from among the students of the same universities. We have adopted this idea in British universities and are trying to develop it in Ukraine “.
In the near future UMSh plans a large School of Social Mediators in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region exclusively for cadets from Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
Help, but not “disenchant”
A psychologist from Mariupol, Yevgenia Stupnik, estimates the number of social workers, trained volunteers and psychologists with combat trauma experience at at least two hundred specialists only on the well-known southern flank of the contact line in Donbass. They work mainly in local structures that receive Western grants or in international foundations such as Médecins Sans Frontières, Caritas Ukraine, People in Need, the International Red Cross …
Yevgenia met the war already with a specialized higher education and only improved her qualifications at the courses that psychologists from the Maidan began to conduct in the ATO zone. In early 2015, the deputy commander for work with personnel of one of the units of the Ukrainian marines asked the volunteers to help with a psychologist for the fighters. This is how Evgenia’s work with the army began..
On her weekends, she went to zero – to the Marine Corps dugouts near Lebedinskoye and Bezymyannoye. Even then, she realized that the “army” needed psychological help for the fighters, in which their concentration and fighting spirit did not suffer. “We realized that we had to help, but not“ disenchant ”- smiles Evgenia Stupnik.
Since 2016, helping the victims is her main job. She started with the mobile team of the project to help children in the shelling zone of Mariupol and nearby villages, which was funded by UNICEF. Then she worked with demobilized former military personnel of their families, now she helps people in the villages of the “gray zone” along the entire southern flank of the confrontation line as part of the mobile brigades of the Caritas Ukraine Foundation.
“We work according to the Israeli protocol for dealing with any post-traumatic disorders SEE FAR CBT, which was brought to us back in 2014,” says Evgeniya Stupnik. “They shared with us the experience that the Israelis use at home. Then we were even told such a tale about the fact that in villages on the outskirts, lonely old people are waiting for shelling, get out of hiding after them and put the kettle on – because in Israel, after enemy missiles, social workers and psychologists must come to them for an hour and a half to talk to them. Unfortunately, this does not work for us – there is no such state program in Ukraine yet. But when we leave for the gray zone we are faced with the fact that we are such a separator – we listen to all their troubles, sorrows, complaints, aggression, anger. And in all these words we “dig out” and return people in the bottom of their resources, teach them to see these resources and use them. Our main task is to teach a person to cope with the consequences of chronic stress “.