Figurines of grinning security officials and holidays with the National Guard
In June 2022, the Forest Guard title about anthropomorphic animals from the fabulous city of Dubrava appeared on the Russian comics market. According to the plot, all the inhabitants of the city - predators and herbivores - live in peace, but this order of things does not suit everyone. The stability of the Dubrava is constantly threatened by intruders, to combat which a special detachment of the Forest Guard was created. The prototype for it was the real Russian Guard, which acted as the publisher of the comic - three parts of the title can already be read on the website of the department.
The comic is not the only patriotic merch for the younger generation that has appeared this year. For younger children, a set of the Rosgvardia constructor was launched, which included toy paddy wagons, weapons and figurines of grinning security officials.
The department is confident that “children need the right toys” that will help instill in them the appropriate values: patriotism, honesty, loyalty to word and deed.
The Russian Guard works on the development of these values among young people all year round. The security forces have a particularly busy schedule in the summer - it is at this time that the "Vacations with the National Guard" campaign starts. They attend school and health camps across the country, where they give lectures, host sports events and other initiatives. Among them, for example , the so-called “Exercise with law enforcement officers” is not the usual morning workout for children, but drill training with a demonstration of self-defense techniques from the National Guard.
A native of Tambov, Masha < name changed> has been going to the Solnechny camp for the third year and says that this summer the National Guard visited the facility for the first time. She calls this event “almost one of the best in the first shift”: children and counselors were invited to contests and games, and the second was also given the opportunity to win a box of sweets for their wards. In addition to sweets, the security forces brought with them equipment and weapons from the Great Patriotic War and arranged an exhibition - at it, according to Masha, "everything could be taken in hand."
She adds that the children received "a lot of useful information." They were told the history of some of the exhibits and read a short lecture about working in the National Guard.
“In general, I liked hearing about it, but I have other plans, I'm going to enter a different direction. Although many boys from our detachment expressed a desire to become members of the National Guard.”
A similar event, timed to coincide with the Day of Russia, took place in the camp "Ural birch" in the Chelyabinsk region. Here, the security forces again gave a lecture (this time on the history of the holiday) and showed the children their equipment, with which they then arranged “fun starts”. Nastya < name changed> , a visitor to the camp, says that the National Guard gave the children "the opportunity to experience their work for themselves."
Staged exercises and rallies
The rest of the year, the Russian Guards are no less busy. In winter, for example, they play football with young people in felt boots - this year such an event was held in Novokuznetsk schools among high school students.
“Meetings with the Russian Guards take place quite often, as our school is good friends with them,” says Maxim < name changed> , who attended the valenkoball tournament in February. The event was timed to coincide with Defender of the Fatherland Day and allocated separate time for it after school, so attendance was optional. The National Guard did not bring boots with them - the students who decided to play football with them had to look for them on their own among friends and relatives. As for the rest, says Denis, the tournament "went great", even though the felt boots are "not very comfortable to play": "They slipped, and sometimes flew off when you kicked the ball."
To participate in the felt boots tournament, the children had to look for felt boots among friends, the National Guard did not bring them
If the Russian Guards do not attend schools and colleges, then they invite young people to visit them on excursions. A graduate of Moscow School No. 258, Christoph < name changed> studied in a cadet class, so he constantly attended meetings with representatives of structures: “I have to prepare for exams, but they take me everywhere: either to the University of the Ministry of Emergencies at VDNKh, or to the National Guard.” On such excursions, he recalls, the Russian Guards told “how cool and fun they live.”
Christoph, he said, was not interested in hearing about battles and operations, but some of his classmates seriously thought about joining the National Guard. He adds that demonstration exercises were included in the mandatory program of such excursions.
“The National Guard showed how they act: a car drove out, they kind of “captured” it, fired blank bullets. Everything seemed to be epic from the outside, but we all know how it actually works.
Apparently, the security forces always play out such "staging" according to one scenario. So, at a meeting with Belgorod schoolchildren, they also fired into the air, surrounded a suspicious car and pulled out a “criminal” from there, who was laid face down on the ground. “You might think that they are shooting with stuntmen, but in fact, these are well-adjusted actions of the fighters of the SOBR of the Russian Guard,” the voice-over voice of the host of the Mir Belgorod channel comments on the exercises.
A more spectacular production was seen in August 2021 by schoolchildren from Dagestan who visited the OMON base in Kaspiysk. There, the security forces, belligerently shouting to the soundtrack from Mortal Combat, tried to immerse the schoolchildren as much as possible in their everyday work: they practiced hand-to-hand combat techniques, wielded bayonets and jumped over burning pipes.
The security forces, belligerently shouting to the soundtrack from Mortal Combat, immersed schoolchildren in their everyday work
The capture of criminals and military operations are only two items on the list of duties of the National Guard. Without their presence, anti-government rallies are also not complete, the intricacies of work at which representatives of the department share with the younger generation. In February 2021, at school No. 42 and gymnasium No. 1 in Nizhnevartovsk, the Russian Guards and policemen held "Lessons of Courage", the program of which included staged rallies . Some of the schoolchildren, armed with shields and batons, pretended to be the National Guard, while the rest played the role of protesters and threw volleyballs at “opponents”.
Later, in an interview with Current Time, a student from one of the schools, who asked to be called Valeria, spoke in detail about the staged exercises. According to her, the security forces avoided the word "rally" and said that they were conducting a career guidance lesson for schoolchildren. The students, who portrayed employees of the National Guard, were encouraged - they were offered to “feel like a National Guard” and were given advice. “The one who pretended to be a policeman had a baton in his hands, and the instructors suggested, they say, come on, hit him [the protester] in the legs, defend yourself, defend yourself.”
Agitation for admission to universities of law enforcement agencies
Meetings of schoolchildren with representatives of the power and law enforcement agencies of Russia are not least held to agitate young people. Christoph, who studied in a cadet class, explains that such classes are, in principle, created with the expectation that graduates will then go to study at the universities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Russian Guard, and events with employees of the structures should push them to this decision.
According to a graduate of one of the colleges in Yekaterinburg, who wished not to give his name, students from ordinary schools and colleges without a bias in military training fall under the agitation of the security forces.
“They came to us for agitation at some Perm university of the National Guard. We made a list with the guys who, they say, are waiting for admission. They also said that even if you study poorly (for triples), they will also pay a scholarship of 20 thousand rubles.
We are talking about the Perm Military Institute of the National Guard Troops (PVVNG) - this is one of four Russian universities where future Russian guardsmen are being trained today. Campaigning takes place not only at personal meetings, but also online - for this, PVVNG employees maintain a YouTube channel where they publish videos and TV stories from the life of the university. Usually they cover events and actions in which cadets were involved, areas of training and the life of students. So, in the plot of the Vetta TV channel, the journalist talks about “quite comfortable” conditions in the hostels and the menu of the local canteen, where “they don’t spoil much, but sometimes they serve real delicacies.” Comments on the videos on the channel are preliminary closed, but you can find reviews on the Internet - from them it is noticeable that few people share the enthusiasm for PVVNG.
“It’s very difficult to call what the cadets are given a “balanced diet”, the guys live for 70 people in the barracks, sleep on old beds with “very comfortable mattresses”, which then hurt their backs,” writes a user under the nickname Eva Moree. A certain Anton S. speaks more expressively, who compares the university with a general regime colony: “It’s the 21st century, and there’s not even a soul there! Feeding horror! From an elite institute, one name, in short, the bottom is complete. There are also many positive reviews on the site. For example, Ruslan Alikberov writes that “real men study and teach” at the institute, and user Andrey adds: “You can enter the university without bribes! According to the results of the exam and with your brains! I recommend!".
It is noteworthy that in 2022, Major General of the Russian Guard and part-time former head of the PVVNG Vladimir Kupavsky was accused of taking bribes in the total amount of 1.9 million rubles and exceeding official powers. According to the prosecutor's office of the Central Military District, for bribes Kupavsky promised guaranteed admission to the Perm Military Institute.
In one proven case in 2018, he demanded that the fitness category of a candidate who had passed a psychological examination be changed from third to fourth. Falling into this category means that the applicant for admission is not recommended for study at a military institute, as he does not meet the requirements. After that, Kupavsky contacted the candidate's mother through intermediaries and obtained a bribe of 500,000 rubles so that her son would be reinstated in the entrance examinations. According to the results of the trial, the former head of the PVVNG was placed under house arrest, but he did not admit his guilt and stated that "the investigation was carried out biasedly."
Patriots in arms
The other side of the meetings with the National Guard is teaching the younger generation patriotism. All events, from “Vacations with the National Guard” to all kinds of “Lessons of Courage”, are regarded by the security forces as their contribution to the patriotic education of young people. According to Ruben P., a member of the National Guard who met with schoolchildren in Gorno-Altaisk, “such meetings lay a good foundation for the legal consciousness and culture of schoolchildren and students, and also form respect and love for the motherland among the children.”
Russia took the course for teaching patriotism in 2001, when the first program "Patriotic Education of Citizens of the Russian Federation" was launched. Its implementation required 130.78 million rubles from the federal budget. At this time, initiatives and events began to be introduced in educational institutions across the country to teach young people love and respect for the fatherland.
Yulia Shvartsberg, who graduated from V. F. Orlov’s Moscow school in 2012, says that every Monday at school began with a hymn.
“It was impossible to move during it, even if you were late for the lesson. Freeze where you are, the attendants will check. And at the lessons of life safety, the students disassembled and assembled machine guns, practiced shooting - the shooting range was on the first floor of the school. The bullets were not dangerous, but the aim of the school Kalashnikov machine gun was always shot down.
With each new state program, the goals of patriotic education grew in proportion to the costs from the federal budget. Financing of one of them, which was carried out from 2016 to 2020, was already estimated at 1.7 billion rubles. The authors of the program set themselves several tasks. First, they relied on the development in the younger generation of a "sense of pride" for the country, reverence for its history and symbols. Secondly, with the help of the program, they planned to “strengthen the prestige of service” in the armed forces and law enforcement agencies of Russia. The resolution states that one of the goals is “the formation of moral, psychological and physical readiness among young people to defend the Fatherland, fidelity to constitutional and military duty in peacetime and wartime.”
With each new state program, the goals of patriotic education grew in proportion to the costs from the federal budget
Among the participants in this program is the National Guard - the structure was just formed in April 2016. Christoph, a graduate of Moscow school No. 258, recalls that at the events, the National Guardsmen constantly talked about patriotism: “They said that you should repay your homeland, because you are a Russian and a patriot. That you must be proud of the country, serve it and defend it.”
According to Sergei Chernyshov, director of Novokolledzh in Novosibirsk, patriotism in Russia has taken on a militaristic message due to the peculiarities of society:
“We have little developed values of humanism. Nobody is interested in creative work, but if you threw yourself on the embrasure with your chest, yes, you are a hero. A striking example was the fashion to dress up children in military uniforms on May 9th. I was told that this was all nonsense - just children in tunics with wooden machine guns at the ready running around and smiling. It seems to me that February 24 showed that these are not jokes. When we think that children in military uniforms are normal, from this half a step to justifying the killing of citizens of a neighboring country.
Instructions on the "special operation"
Military operations in Ukraine have made adjustments to the program of patriotic education of youth. In early March, Russian schools were ordered to conduct lessons on the “special operation” in order to form an “adequate position” among students on the topic of a “special peacekeeping operation to protect the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics.” To do this, teachers were provided with manuals , where the scenario for conducting such lessons is carefully described. As an answer to the question “Why did Russia decide to start a special operation,” there are several options that are broadcast on federal channels. This is the creation by Ukraine of nuclear weapons and biological laboratories, anti-Russian policy and the outlawing of the Russian language.
Russian schools were obliged to conduct lessons on the “special operation” in order to form an “adequate position” among students
In some schools, the duty to tell children about the goals and reasons for the “special operation” is taken on by the National Guard. In May, the security forces from Tomsk carried out the St. George Ribbon action in the Seversky Cadet Corps and School No. 197, during which they explained that Russia was conducting a “special operation to free civilians in Ukraine from nationalists.” In Tomsk school No. 196, students were also told about the meaning of the symbols "V" and "Z", and at the same time they noted "the importance of supporting our fighters participating in a special operation." You can support the security forces with drawings and letters - in May they received more than 100 parcels from Kuban schoolchildren alone. In one of her letters, Masha, a fifth-grader, addresses an unfamiliar National Guard officer: “My classmates and I are proud that such brave people like you stand guard over our security.”
Christoph does not share either the patriotic mood of the authorities or their position on the “special operation”. He has friends and acquaintances from Ukraine who, in his words, "do not deserve what is happening now."
“I don’t understand why I should be a patriot, why I have to serve from birth. I was born under Putin, my child can be born under Putin - is this normal? Russia is now turning into North Korea. Even if the “special operation” is stopped in the near future, we will observe its consequences for a long time, and I have to live somehow.”
This year he turned 18 years old - in the autumn draft he can be drafted into the army, and from there, he worries, sent to Ukraine. Now he works three jobs in order to save up 250 thousand rubles for a military ID.
A similar position, says Sergey Chernyshov, is held by a significant number of Russian teenagers.
“Many have friends and acquaintances in Ukraine - after February 24 they sent photos from basements and shelters, the consequences of the bombing. Telling young people in the lessons of patriotic education how great everything that is happening is for chickens to laugh at. It is also impossible for children of 8–10 years old to explain without deceit why one person kills another for such great reasons. They are by nature humanists. There are no reasons that would justify and explain this, and children understand this very well.”