File this story under the heading “And I Thought I’d Seen It All.” As soon as the images hit the Internet, they caused outrage, shock, and downright horror. For in them a group of Russian kindergartners–boys and girls ages 5 and 6–are holding mock AK-47 assault rifles, sniper rifles, and grenade launchers.
Probably just a publicity stunt, right? Sadly, it’s not that easily dismissed. They’re part of a “patriotic class” at a kindergarten in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The fake weapons were provided by a club that organized the event.
When negative reaction began to filter in, most notably from the Internet, ?Yury Dorozhinsky, a member of Red Star, a group which teachers military history and reenacts World War II battles?responded:
?Why can’t children hold a weapon??Let boys play dolls then.?
The event with the children holding fake weapons was part of the annual Russian celebration of a holiday which dates back to the Soviet Union era known as Defenders of the Fatherland.
The director of a separate kindergarten in St. Petersburg?Irina Gosteva, said the display was completely unnecessary:
?This is not a patriotic upbringing. This has no place in a kindergarten.?
In recent months, some in Russia have been saying that militarism is on the rise in the country, especially in light of Russian actions in Ukraine, where Russian President Vladimir Putin has been providing arms and support to separatists as part of a plan to destabilize the freely elected government of Ukraine.
What is most disturbing is just how few people directly connected to the event objected to the photo of these children being posed as soldiers. The children’s parents even approved of their kids participating! What does this say about Russia under Putin? How soon does he plan to cast these innocents into the fire?
Just when you thought you’d seen it all, the bar is raised higher.