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Ukraine Says Russia Canceling School Holiday in Mariupol

Local residents are seen in front of the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in Mariupol. Vladimir Gerdo / TASS

A Ukrainian official said Thursday that Russian troops occupying Ukraine's Mariupol had canceled school summer holidays in the south-eastern port city to prepare pupils for switching to a Russian curriculum.

The strategic city fell to Moscow's forces following a devastating siege that culminated when Ukrainian forces laid down arms last week at the Azovstal steelworks where they were holding out.

"The occupiers have announced the extension of the school year until September 1," city official Petro Andryushchenko wrote on social media.

There was no confirmation of the announcement from the Russian side.

"Throughout the summer, children will have to study Russian language, literature, and history as well as maths classes in Russian," Andryushchenko said. 

The aim, he said, was "to remove Ukraine from the curriculum and prepare them for going back to school with a Russian curriculum."

Andryushchenko said the city's Russian leadership was having trouble enlisting teachers to take on the job, with "only 53 teachers for nine schools." 

He did not say how many pupils would lose out on their summer holidays in the city.

After weeks of siege and Russian strikes, much of Mariupol has been reduced to a wasteland. 

The last Ukrainian troops holding out at the bombed-out Azovstal plant laid down their arms on May 20, with Russia declaring victory in its months-long operation to capture the port.

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