When Ukrainian forces regained control of Katyuzhanka, a village north of Kyiv that had been under Russian occupation for more than a month in March, they found the local school wrecked. Any equipment that hadn’t been stolen was smashed, there was a makeshift cemetery in the school yard and deep trenches had been dug across the football pitch.
Inside one of the destroyed classrooms, written in chalk on a big, green blackboard hanging on the wall just below a portrait of Isaac Newton, was a letter addressed to the pupils and signed “the Russians.”
It read: “Children, we’re sorry for such a mess, we tried to save the school, but there was shelling. Live in peace, take care of yourselves and don’t repeat the mistakes your elders made. Ukraine and Russia are one people!!! Peace be with you, brothers and sisters!”
The note, written in Russian, as opposed to Ukrainian — the school’s language of instruction, was one of several left on blackboards and whiteboards scattered around the building. “We are for the peace in the whole world,” another one said.
CNN cannot independently verify who wrote the notes.
Mikola Mikitchik, the principal of the Secondary School of Katyuzhanka, told CNN last month he felt disgusted when he found the notes.
“They wrote ‘Russians and Ukrainians are brothers’ and at the same time they robbed the school … they ruined computers, they took out hard drives, they took away laptops, printers, they left nothing at the school! It’s barbarism and hypocrisy,” he said.