The Azovets summer camp outside Kiev accepts kids from six years of age, operating under the moto: “the idea is in the nation, the strength is in you,”according to the camp’s page on the VKontakte social network.
Azovets doesn’t have an official web page, but actively promotes itself on social media, including on Facebook and Twitter accounts belonging to the Azov battalion.
Instructors from the ranks of the Azov battalion’s volunteer fighters provide the young students with a diverse training program, which includes PE, hand-to-hand combat, survival skills, knot-tying and more.
Photos posted on the page showed children being taught how to assemble an assault rifle before being given AK-47s to fire.
There’s also an obstacle course arranged in accordance with military standards that the kids compete to overcome in the best possible time.
But it’s not all about practice, as lectures by “interesting people” from the radical group are also organized at the camp on a regular basis.
The Azovets campers live in tents erected for them on the territory of the camp.
The camp was established to show the children that there are things in life besides school and mobile devices and to“give them our love,” Oleksii, a platoon commander in the Azov battalion and instructor at the camp, told Ukrainian ICTV channel.
“One has to be strong; has to be courageous to defend the territorial integrity of our motherland,” he added.
Children in the camp wear identical T-shirts bearing the Azov battalion insignia – “Wolfsangel” or wolf hook, which was used during WWII by two of Nazi Germany’s SS divisions, the Azovets camp’s page revealed.
The camp is primarily designed for the children of members of the Azov battalion who are now on the front, but Ukrainian kids from families unrelated to the unit are also welcome, according to an advertisement on the in.ck.ua website.
“Simultaneously, the wounded Azov regiment soldiers will be undergoing rehabilitation at the camp, with the communication with the children to have a positive influence on their recovery,” it added.
The price of a one-week stay at the Azovets camp stands at 900 hryvna (around $41) plus insurance.
In July, the House of Representatives of the US Congress unanimously adopted amendments to a proposal for the 2016 American defense budget that outlawed the allocation of funds for training and arming Ukraine’s Azov battalion.
The senators refer to Azov as an “openly neo-Nazi” and “fascist” organization and prohibit US instructors working in Ukraine from aiding the controversial unit.
The volunteer Azov battalion was established in 2014 by Andrey Biletsky, a historian and firebrand political activist who describes his ideology as “social nationalism.” He is the leader of the Ukraine Patriot movement.
After being incorporated into Ukraine’s National Guard, the unit actively participated in Kiev’s military assault on eastern Ukraine, allowing it to gain access to funds and heavy weaponry.
In December of last year, a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights blamed Azov and other Ukrainian volunteer battalions for an increasing number of human rights violations involving torture and forced disappearances of dissidents.