An “independent expert” dispatched by the IAEA at the Zaporizhzhya NPP is actually a primatologist with long-standing political ties in Russia, the Russian independent media writes. Veridica has selected a number of articles describing how Russian children are taught to love, fight and die for the motherland and about Ukrainian fighters at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol.
MEDIAZONA: Primatologist turned atomic energy expert. Who is Renat Karchaa, the man who accompanied the head of the IAEA at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.
Ukraine has introduced sanctions against Renat Karchaa, the person who accompanied the IAEA delegation at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. The Russian media describes him as “an atomic energy expert”, yet according to conflicting and fragmented information found in open sources, Karchaa may very well be a primatologist from Sukhumi, a Pskov-based political consultant or a public official from Murmansk. Mediazona has published his short but peculiar biography.
Video footage published by war correspondent Mac William Bishop depicts a bald man, wearing a blue suit and sunglasses. Karchaa is showing a group of foreigners a missile that has sunk into the ground, waving his hands about to explain that the missile did a complete 1800 before impact, namely that it might have been coming from a completely different direction than originally estimated.
It appears Renat Karchaa has recently become an “atomic energy expert”. In 2014, journalists referred to him as “an expert in North Caucasus and Abkhazia”, around the time he would comment for TV Rain on the political developments in the region.
Karchaa’s short bio published on Abkhazia-Inform states that he was born in Ufa on July 17, 1966. He graduated top of his class, then he completed the military service in Tallinn. In late 1980s, he moved to Abkhazia, where he graduated the Faculty of Biology and Geography with the Abkhazia State University. Aged 25, Karchaa became the youngest deputy in the Parliament of Abkhazia on its first tenure. In addition to being a standing member of Parliament, Karchaa remained the director of the Institute of Primatology and Experimental Therapy, which operated on the premises of the famous monkey nursery in Sukhumi.
Over 1994-1995, the future political consultant and “atomic energy expert” was accused of embezzling the assets of the aforementioned Institute by selling its scientific archives. Years later, Karchaa commented the allegations, referring to them as “an old story that brings a smile on his face”.
In 2004, Karchaa was indicted in a criminal investigation into a road traffic accident that killed a minor. At the time, Renat Karchaa was serving as head of the representative office of the Murmansk Oblast in the federal government. According to Izvestia, Karchaa fatally run down a 16-year-old teenager outside the city of Putoshka in the Pskov Oblast, where Karchaa was doing some political consultancy related to the upcoming local elections. According to the cited sources, Karchaa fled the scene of the accident, but was subsequently identified and detained due to eye-witness reports who remembered his car’s license plate.
Mediazona was unable to find any information regarding the trial of the Putoshka accident.
Another function held by Karchaa was adviser to the president of Abkhazia; in 2021 he was fired from this position.
At the end of August, 2014, during the presidential election in Abkhazia, Renat Karchaa was a designated observer representing the Russian election authority, when he assaulted during a clash between supporters of different candidates outside the headquarters of the republic’s Central Election Commission. According to Kavkaz-uzel, the political consultant “was transported to the nearest hospital presenting severe physical trauma”.
ISTORIES: “The happiness of the Motherland is more precious than life itself”
As part of the new school year, Russian pupils will receive weekly teachings about the war in Ukraine being an example of true devotion towards the country and the Russian people, and that a true patriot must always be ready to give his life for the Motherland.
Starting September 1, a new weekly subject has been listed in curricula across Russian schools – “Conversations on matters of great importance”. As part of this class, in the context of “protecting Russian society against the destructive information and psychological influence” and with a view to “strengthening Russian traditional spiritual and moral values”, teachers must instill patriotism and love for the motherland in schoolchildren. Every school will have a new position – adviser to the headmaster on education activities, in charge of informing and educating school children and the teaching staff”. The Education Ministry has already invested 22 million rubles on elaborating additional interactive materials.
Istories has examined the textbooks that will be used in patriotic classes: children are told that the war in Ukraine is meant to “protect the population of Donbas, which has been ill-treated and persecuted by Kyiv authorities”, that “the inhabitants of DNR and LNR are Russian, which is why they have to be brought back to Russia”, and that “Russian soldiers are heroes”.
“For the Motherland, we give our lives without fear”
Teachers should first and foremost instill in pupils in the primary cycle the love for the nature of Russia, which is the “expression of love for the motherland” and “a great sense of patriotism”.
Once the teacher has provided examples of proverbs and sayings about the motherland, they should address the pupils a test question: “Which sayings reflect the idea that love for the motherland is more than one’s admiration for its nature, but also a desire to protect it, to work hard in order to make sure the Motherland becomes more beautiful and richer?”
Here are a few examples of answers that the author of this textbook expect:
- “Spare neither your strength nor your life for your Motherland”;
- “The happiness of the Motherland is more precious than life itself”;
- “Let’s stand together for our holy land”;
- “For the Motherland, we give our lives without fear”;
- “Loving one’s Motherland is serving one’s Motherland”
Once the class has provided answers, the teacher suggests working in pairs: “Discuss and explain the proverb ‘Loving one’s Motherland is serving one’s Motherland’. Hint: you will find a few meanings of the verb ‘to serve’ written on the blackboard:
- completing the military service, enrolling in the army;
- working for the sake of something, to the benefit of something/someone.
After a short quiz on the history, geography and culture of Russia, pupils in the 5-7 grades must then take part in a creative activity designed to help children deal with certain “delicate situations”, such as the “special military operation.” “The goals of the special military operations include: defending the population of Donbas against the transgressions of the Kyiv regime, disarming Ukraine, banning NATO military bases from being built on Ukraine’s territory. Russia’s armed forces, together with DNR and LNR troops, are carrying out missions to attain these goals. The assistance, military or otherwise, that Western countries have jointly provided to Ukrainian authorities, is prolonging hostilities and causing an increase in the number of victims”, reads one of these lesson plans.
ISTORIES writes about the first day of school in a school in Moscow
On September 1, schools in Russia organized the first classes in the “Conversations on matters of great importance” module, where teachers need to teach pupils about patriotism and convince them that the war in Ukraine is for the benefit of the country.
A 13-minute recording of one of these classes was submitted by pupils to Istories. The teacher tells the pupils the story of a four-year-old boy who got killed by “nationalists”. She praises Vladimir Putin’s decisions and urges the children to decide what they are: nationalists or patriots.
Teacher: “Russia doesn’t need new territories, and it would have never gone to war if Russians hadn’t inhabited these territories. Do you understand? There are Russian citizens living there. We were part of the same state. In our country, the Soviet Union, the former Soviet Union, anyone could live in any republic of his choosing. And they stayed there, this is where they live. They don’t want to leave their homes and move to Russia.
And in order to defend these Russians, at the request of the representatives of those territories, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin gave the order to start a military action aimed at protecting these people. For eight years, Ukraine has been trying to force these people to speak Ukrainian and forget everything Russian, they shot them.
I believe our president made the right decision.”
THE INSIDER: “The defenses held thanks to superheroes”. The testimonies of the Azovstal defenders who have returned from captivity
Over 2,500 servicemen at the Azovstal steelworks were taken hostage by the Russians for nearly three months. For 86 days, they defended the city of Mariupol. Some of the fighters, known by their call signs, Kombat, Tork and Vishnya, who were exchanged for Russian prisoners of war, have told The Insider how they survived with no food, drinking water and medicine, how they defended the city, how the Russians’ attitude towards them changed during their days of captivity and why they want to return to the battlefield despite having been severely wounded.
“They removed bullets without anesthesia and patched us up with bedsheets”
Of course, we were morally prepared for the war, it was much easier that way. But not for this war, perhaps a smaller one. The hardest moment was when the first in our group fell. The second time was when my friend died. I took his death very hard. It was relatively easier for me when others in our group passed.
In Mariupol, everything had become so surreal, that it almost seemed like a video game, like Battlefield: planes flying above us, there was shooting everywhere, tanks, gunships, artillery fire, fighting in the streets, you got pulled out the window on a stretcher and taken to the boat for transportation. It was like a very intense video game, with just two options: you either lost your head, got scared and froze, or you went with the flow. I was happy my wife was safe and I didn’t have to worry about her. So I just did my job.
Everyone in our group lived in the moment: we got up, ate whatever food we had, cool! We went on, we completed one operation – good job! If the operation went well, then we would be happy, otherwise, we weren’t. We lived in the here and now and didn’t think about the future. […] When they told us they had us surrounded and that we were basically dead, we didn’t give it any thought. We just went on about our business. Not everyone made it out though.
I was involved in the defense of Mariupol until early April. There was a lot of street fighting, and I got wounded. I had reached Azovstal on March 26. On April 15-16 we got orders to put up a perimeter defense allowing everyone to retreat.
When we were down in the bunker, among the wounded, we didn’t have anything to eat. We had some groats, but when one of the entrances got blocked by debris, and then our canteen was destroyed, where we cooked our food, all we had was dry goats. We ate food cooked in a different bunker, 1 kilometer away. The guys would bring the food in barrels, which took them about an hour: there was permanent shelling, artillery fire and explosions. We had half a cup of porridge with the occasional small piece of bacon for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is all we had the whole day.
The defenses of Azovstal held thanks to superheroes. The Russian media claimed 2,000 people got out of the plant, that they could still defend the steelworks for days. In fact, of the 2,000 people, if we discount the wounded, the women, the dead, those who mentally cracked due to the war, there was only a handful of guys left, who were up there defending Azovstal. Particularly in May.
At least five people in our bunker committed suicide. We were lucky: we had good company. The worst part was hunger.
The guys in the “Azov” and “Medvedi” battalions, from the 36th Brigade, the police and everyone in the auxiliary units all fought bravely. Some died, others were wounded, because there was never any rotation of troops and we couldn’t get any rest. They sometimes had to fight for 4-5 days without getting a break. 40% from my group died. Some said the death toll in their group had reached 80%. After a week of fierce, non-stop fighting, your body starts to shut down. Sleep-deprived, adrenaline pumping in your veins and totally exhausted, you become a zombie and then you die. Not because the enemy was stronger, but because your body can’t cope with such a strenuous effort.
I was shot four times. I was in a risky position – I was in a room with a full-wall window. The enemy was in the building across the street. We were moving into the nearby window when I got shot – in the knee, in my hip, in my left butt cheek and in my left heel. All except one had exit wounds. When the doctors treated the wounds, they would simply patch the wounds with an ointment of sorts. The bullets were taken out without anesthesia.
We were evacuated from Azvostal in four stages. The first group to leave were the severely wounded, the second group were those who had stabilized, who could walk. The third group were the lightly wounded, and in the fourth and final stage those who survived and our commanders. I got out with the second group.
At first, we were all taken to Novoazovsk. We were greeted as if we were responsible for the destruction of Mariupol. They told us: “Have you no shame?” And I would tell them: “Why should I be ashamed? Because I defended my city? I am from Mariupol, do you think I would destroy my own city?” When they heard I was from Mariupol, they had nothing left to say. They knew very well who had destroyed the city. They knew the city was wiped off the face of the earth by the Russians.
After chatting with us, 3-4 young people from Donetsk, who were guarding us, deserted. They packed up their stuff and they left when they were called up. At first, they said we were fascists, but a week later they would come and ask us how we were. Their behavior changed the more they talked to us. They saw we weren’t fascists, we weren’t Nazis, but servicemen who were there to defend their territory.
Many boys died in Mariupol. Every third boy in the Azov group. There is no information about the other units overall. No information about the civilian deaths either. Whenever we tried to move civilians out of the buildings and hide them in basements, they bombed the buildings with all sorts of heavy weapons: bombs, artillery, rockets. The enemy wasn’t picking its targets, it didn’t care if their target was one of our positions of simply a civilian building.