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Russian Special Forces Show Fifth-Graders How to Beat Crowds

A special forces unit demonstrated its melee combat skills to elementary school students in central Russia last week, sparking outrage among parents, a local television station has reported.

Prison service guards wearing helmets and bearing shields showed fifth-graders how to club an imaginary enemy at a school auditorium in the Chelyabinsk region town of Zlatoust, as seen in a news segment by the local Zlat-TV channel. Most of the children’s parents had reportedly not been informed of the demonstration in advance and flooded the school with calls after seeing the news report.

During the display, the unit’s leader is seen ordering his subordinates to show the assembled schoolchildren how to strike from different positions, while a banner reading “life for the motherland, honor to no one!” is seen on the wall.

Critics haved called similar displays of military might to young Russians a misguided attempt by authorities to breed a loyal base of future voters.

“I believe demonstrations of physical force against citizens can in no way ingrain patriotism and love for the motherland,” local assemblywoman Olga Mukhometyarova wrote in a social media post Monday.

The Zlatoust mayor’s office called in the school’s director to find out the circumstances of the demonstration, Russia’s Podyom news website reported, after national outlets ran segments about the video. 

Earlier this month, schoolchidren in the town were shown rifle handling and wrestling displays by young men and women in t-shirts bearing the logo of the Emergency Situations Ministry.

Most recently, police units in the republic of Tatarstan recruited ninth-graders to pose as protesters in a display of crowd-dispersal tactics. Police there said they were looking into the incident, which was filmed last Friday.

“The entire country is discussing how police in Tatarstan practiced dispersing rallies on schoolchildren,” Mukhometyarova wrote. 

“[Now our] region has also distinguished itself,” she added.

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