: RFE/RL: Children playing controversial roles in Russia's Victory Day preparations

15:18 May. 6, 2016

RFE/RL: Children playing controversial roles in Russia's Victory Day preparations

Children wearing specially made uniforms, march in front of WWII veterans, along a street during the so-called Kid Parade in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, May 14, 2015 (AP Photo)

Children are pushed to take Russia's Victory Day pride to bizarre lengths

Russia's May 9 Victory Day is a major holiday and source of pride for authorities and citizens alike.

Read also Patriotic Education: Kids beaten with guns, sip mud in Russia's military school

Everyone is given an official day off in honor of the occasion and schoolchildren are encouraged to "voluntarily" attend military parades, organize concerts for local veterans, and participate in official celebrations.

But this year, some children are being pushed to take that pride to bizarre lengths.

A group of young filmmakers in Samara, for instance, showed off their patriotism by producing a Victory Day-themed sketch involving the ghost of a 10-year-old boy dressed in a Soviet military uniform.

When a group of young children encounters the ghost, he somberly explains that his father went to war and fascists executed his mother. The boy says he worked in an artillery plant before joining guerrilla fighters and perishing during a mission.

Read also Kremlin Propaganda: Children 'are not afraid to die for Russia'

As he walks away from the kids, a girl asks: "Hey, is dying scary?"

"That's not important," the ghost boy answers, looking back. "What's important is that we won."

Some were appalled, saying the video propagated the notion that children should die in the name of their motherland. The YouTube channel that originally published the video first disabled the comments section, which was full of critical remarks, and later took it down completely.

But another video posted to YouTube took the connection of children to death a step further.

Ten-year-old Anya explains at the start that her great-grandfather died last year and that she would like to tell his life story. She shows an urn that she says holds his ashes.

She then sits over a backlit surface with black material scattered across.

While tracing images through the ashes with her finger, she describes her great-grandfather's World War II heroics. Anya draws swastikas with the ashes as she explains how her elder fought fascists.

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