Putin’s Youth Army Movement Draws Concerns from Critics Citing Parallels with Hitler

Web critics of the program claim the program is a way to militarize Russian youth, which may be true. Yet there are benefits that cannot be denied, especially in an era of coddled children who know little of history and the sacrifices of those who came before them to provide the comfortable lifestyle we enjoy today.

The pioneers of Vladimir Putin’s new Young Army take their salute in an initiative with strong echoes of Russia’s past during the Cold War.The first 104 schoolchildren joined the revived Soviet military-patriotic movement ‘Yunarmiya’ – or Young Army – in the city of Yaroslavl, the first cadets on a scheme that will be rolled out across the country in September.

Web critics drew parallels to the Hitler Youth and feared a rise in militarization under Putin, but Russian defence officials insisted it is about raising a generation of children ready to build a bright future for themselves and their country.The first 104 schoolchildren joined and took part in the ‘Young Army’ initiation ceremony in Yaroslavl.

The oath of male and female ‘yun-armists’ (young soldiers) reads: ‘I swear to aim for victories in studies and sports, to live a healthy lifestyle, to make myself prepared for the service and labour for the sake of the Motherland, to cherish the memory of the heroes who fought for freedom and independence of our Motherland, to be a patriot and a dignified citizen of Russia.’

General-colonel Alexander Kolmakov said that reviving an old tradition of children and youth organisations can lead to the ‘growing of a generation of citizens who treat the history with care, who are kind and responsive, ready to build a bright future for themselves and for their country’.

Return to Soviet era? Vladimir Putin has set up Soviet military-patriotic movement 'Yunarmiya' or 'Young Army'

The oath goes on: ‘I swear… to make myself prepared for the service and labour for the sake of the Motherland, to cherish the memory of the heroes who fought for freedom and independence of our Motherland’.

Young Russians will be taught to assemble assault rifles, as well as how to shoot.

They will be able to learn parachute jumping, but also theoretical subjects such as military history and tactics.

Students will wear uniform, and units will have their own ‘headquarters’ and banner.

The main age group of the new Putin Young Army will be 14 to 18, but children will be recruited from the age of ten.

Officials stress that attendance will not be compulsory, and will be in addition to normal existing lessons.

The initiative has been criticised, with Valentina Melnikova – who heads a soldiers’ rights group – stating: ‘Attempts to militarise children are a violation of their rights.’

Pro-government pundit Andrei Kurochkin insisted there was a need to ‘strengthen discipline, raise the prestige of the army and develop patriotic education’.

The Russian program is in stark contrast to what has been happening in Western countries. The U.S. government has joined forces with LGBTQ factions to fundamentally change or destroy organizations like the Boy Scouts. It has bullied its way into classrooms and done away with courses on civics and government, and replaced them with teachings on gay pride, sex ed, and ethnic studies. Courses in math, history and science have been watered down or eliminated, and performance evaluations eliminated in order to nurture the self esteem of students. The result is a lot of whiny, entitled, self-absorbed, ignorant kids who have little or no respect for others, the history of their country, and the value of citizenship.

While Putin is a wily and dangerous foe, we can learn from him and see that we have lost our way in raising the upcoming generation. Perhaps we do not need the focus on paramilitary activities as they are doing in Russia, but the discipline and respect that the youth are being taught will be a boon to both the students and the nation, and we should consider similar programs for our youth, though it may be altogether too late.



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