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  2. Children making balaclavas for the military and competing on tank training grounds. Regional winners of the 2023 presidential grants

Children making balaclavas for the military and competing on tank training grounds. Regional winners of the 2023 presidential grants

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The Presidential Grants Foundation has announced its winners in the first round of the 2023 competition. 1,800 NPOs will receive 4.3 billion rubles ($62,500,000). A number of projects are awarded to help the Russian military and their families, as well as refugees from Ukraine. Among the winners are also projects from the DPR and LPR territories.

"7x7" has reviewed the winning projects to find out how they reflect the state's priorities in grant allocations and how regional initiatives (sometimes in odd ways) responded to the events in Ukraine.

Tailoring clothes for the military

Military personnel deployed in Ukraine have repeatedly complained about the lack of proper combat clothing, and the initiatives to solve this problem began to emerge even before the Grant competition was announced. In Primorye, a contest in making clothes for the troops was held for disabled children and orphans. In Komi and Vladimir Oblast orphans and students focused on sewing T-shirts and sweatshirts.

New grants aim to encourage this trend. In the Chelyabinsk region, kids at a correctional boarding school will be making balaklavas, snoods, and thermal underwear. A sewing workshop at the school will cost over 1.1 million rubles ($16,000).

"As of today Katav-Ivanovsky District has sent 180 boys to defend their homeland, and all of them need care. Our team hopes that by the time the project is completed, the mobilized men will be back home, as well those on compulsory military service", the project description states.

The "Vyazhem-nashim.rf" project will receive 374 thousand rubles ($5,450) for master classes in knitting. 190 women and veterans living in Moscow will produce more than 1.5 thousand pairs of socks.

"The great military commander Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov said: "Keep your head cold, your stomach hungry, and your feet warm" <...> Upon the end of the special military operation we will be knitting for prematurely born babies, orphanages, the elderly, and the needy because they are all OURS, and we will support them."

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source: https://xn--80aakec5bilkue.xn--33-6kcadhwnl3cfdx.xn--p1ai/pres-tsentr/news/67206/

The "Sewing for the Soldier" coworking project in Kirov has been awarded almost 500 thousand rubles ($7,300) to create clothing workshops.

"It's a long-time tradition that some are fighting and others are working on the home front, providing soldiers with all kinds of support <...> In a joint effort we will produce T-shirts, shorts, sweatshirts, windbreakers, and raincoats for the soldiers. In total, we plan to make and deliver at least 1,000 items.”

Bread and workshops for refugees and the soldiers’ families 

Another group of projects helps vulnerable people whose lives have been rattled by the military operation in Ukraine. According to the last official report, about 4.5 million moved from Ukraine to Russia in 2022. Some are now homeless or unemployed, for example, in the Yaroslavl region. Many Russian families, whose breadwinners had been taken to the army, also found themselves in need. There were reports of fathers who had left three or even more children behind.

The project "Daily bread" (Ulyanovsk region) will receive almost 5 million rubles ($72,500) for baking bread for combatants and refugee families. The project leaders promise to help at least 5 thousand people providing them with a total of 78 thousand loaves.

The project "Bibliodesant" in Bashkortostan will receive 340 thousand rubles ($5,000) for mass events and master classes for orphans from Donetsk. The idea is to reduce, by using “creative activities,” the level of "post-traumatic stress disorder” in kids who have lost their parents.

"At the moment, there are about 1,000 people from the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics in Bashkortostan. Refugees <...> had overnight lost their homeland, homes, property, relatives, jobs, and status. Children who have experienced bombings and seen people dying are traumatized particularly hard," the website says.

The "ZA FAMILY" project will receive 196,000 rubles ($2,800) for weekly meetings and workshops for soldiers’ families. A club of psychological emergency assistance in Sterlitamak (Bashkortostan) plans friendly meetings and classes on knitting socks, scarves, and gloves, writing letters of support to the servicemen, as well as “heart-to-heart talks over a cup of tea." 

The "Wait. Hope. Love" project will get more than 3.2 million rubles ($45,560) to help soldiers’ spouses and mothers. The organization will take care of their daily needs like cutting grass and splitting firewood as well as doing home renovation and repair works and fixing vehicles.

"Men in the trenches shouldn’t worry about their households. This, in turn, should boost the morale of our homeland's defenders," the project says. 

The "[NOT]Nearby: Creative Workshops" (Kurgan region) project will receive 2.4 million rubles ($34,200) to run workshops for children whose fathers are now in the army. The initiative notes that the mobilization has "brought a lot of worries for everyone in the families of the mobilized men. Schoolchildren, perhaps, have the hardest time in this situation: the academic workload at school, relationships with peers, and separation from their fathers, who are now NOT around.”

source: pxhere.com

Projects in the DNR and LPR territories

Russian regions have been actively sponsoring various regions of Eastern Ukraine since May 2022. Among the winners are several regional initiatives that offer assistance to Donbas.

The Tekhnodar v2.0 project (Samara Region) will receive over 960,000 rubles ($13,700) for fixing computer equipment donated by Russians. The repaired equipment will be handed over to humanitarian aid centers in the so-called DNR and LNR.

Almost 3 million rubles ($45,000) will receive the "Help for orphans of Donbas" project. The money will be spent on legal counseling for foster families with orphans from the LPR and DPR and various training for orphanage employees. Leaders of the project will also arrange a program of "patriotic education of orphans using the resources of the Don Cossacks,” though what this exactly means isn’t quite clear from the description of the initiative.

"Orphans in the Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics are in a much worse situation than Russian orphans,” the project claims. “The same can be said about the institutions for orphans in the LNR and DNR <...> For many years they were part of the underdeveloped, compared to Russia, Ukrainian educational system, then since 2014 they have been on their own."

Within the project "Humanitarian Vet Squad in the liberated territories," veterinarians will vaccinate and neuter animals left without owners. The plan is to vaccinate animals in Kherson, Mariupol, and Volnovakha. Almost 3 million rubles ($45,600) are allocated for this purpose. 

A children's room in a church

The Russian Orthodox Church strongly supports the Kremlin’s policies. In March, Patriarch Kirill offered to pray for peace, adding that the "suppression and extermination of people in Donbas" had been going on for eight years. Some priests with anti-war positions were fined for “discrediting” the Russian Armed Forces. Among this year’s winners are two church projects, one of which offers assistance to soldiers’ families, and the other is going to fight the spread of “fake information.”

The project "MediaPost-Center for Orthodox Media" will teach, for 2.5 million rubles ($35,700), people in Kaluga region how to protect themselves “from the lure and temptations of bad information". The center is based at St. Nicholas Nunnery in Maloyaroslavets. The organizers will be providing lectures and classes on how to handle information, especially the “fake news,” safely. 

The "Children's room in the Holy Trinity Cathedral" project (Krasnoyarsk Krai) receives 859 thousand rubles ($12,300) to open a children's room at the church as part of the program of assistance to the soldiers’ families. 

"Today we are in difficult times when people along with practical help also need spiritual and psychological assistance. The church is a place of love, inspiration, encouragement, service, and learning how to become a kind and compassionate person. But, unfortunately, not everyone can come to the church and fully immerse themselves in the process because their own children get in the way," the project says.

Military training camps for children and sports fields in memory of fallen soldiers

Since the last spring, the military agenda has been strongly affecting schools as kids had to attend “patriotic” lessons and listen to stories about "the greatness of Russia." In September the idea of military training camps in schools became one of the educational priorities. For example, the authorities of the Belgorod region are working on a plan for a large-scale military training camp for schoolchildren and university students.

A total of 384,000 rubles ($5,500) will cost a sports playground in Dobrinka (Volgograd Oblast) which will be named in memory of Ruslan Kakhaev who died in Ukraine. The project promises to "dedicate every sporting event involving children to the Heroes of the Special Operation.”

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The "Mobilization of Patriotism" (Saratov region) project will receive 499 thousand rubles ($7,100). Schoolchildren will have training in military and sports skills at school № 3 in the city of Petrovsk.

"The name for our project is no accident, as it refers to one of the reasons why people were trying to evade the partial mobilization <...> which is a low level of patriotism," the project says.

In Belgorod, 954 thousand rubles ($13,600) will be spent on the construction of the "Be prepared!” military obstacle course. A hundred-meter-long training lane will include barriers, stairs, a broken bridge, a maze, barricades, etc.

"The Belgorod region has become more than just a frontline territory, as now the line of military contact actually runs along the region's border. This situation requires the residents of the Belgorod region not only muster their physical power, courage, resilience, and endurance but also display their high moral and civic qualities, patriotism, and unity."

In Krasnodar Krai, at the cost of over 4.3 million rubles ($61,370), will be working a patriotic area where children will learn how to handle firearms and the basics of military tactics, first aid, and chemical protection. They will also "take part in tournaments at the tank training area".


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