Thursday, 1 October 2009
Victor Shreider, Mayor of Omsk, has just announced a plan to create a children's organisation of 'Bear Cubs' to instil ideological values into little children. The Russian translation of the name, medvezhata is, as the astute amongst you will have already noticed, very close to the surname of dear, respected Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev. Yes, that's right, the president's surname is a derivative (not sure that's linguistically the correct term, but you get my meaning) of the word 'bear' and so the proposed name for the group is a wonderfully witty word play. And of course, the leaders of the little Bear Cubs, will seek to imbue their charges with the values of the party of the big Daddy Bear: Edinaya Russia. Gives a whole new dimension to the Brownie movement in the UK. (Sorry, terrible joke!)
To continue. In a recent press conference, Shreider decried the lack of ideology in the modern child's upbringing: "It's all very well to organise sports clubs, but what's the point if they're not accompanied by some sort of ideological upbringing?", he asked. According to the plans, the Bear Cubs would be a voluntary organisation incorporating sports, arts and craft and 'cognitive' activities – all with a propagandistic element.
The organisation will be based on the Octobrists, a children's group in the Soviet Union that prepared younger children for the much better known Young Pioneers. "The socialist period has been much criticised – and with good reason. But there was one well thought out element there – the patriotic upbringing of the youngest generation. We were all Octobrists, Pioneers, and Komsomolists. Whether we like it or not, today this task must fall on the leading party." According to their motto, the main attributes of a Little Octobrist were to be active, brave, hard-working, honest and cheerful. Not so different from our scouting and guiding movements, it would seem. Although, given the state-sponsorship of the movement, presumably some impetus to become a good little Communist, graduate through the Pioneer and Komsomol movements before getting a good Soviet job supporting the status quo, would have been tacked on the end. And now the mayor of Omsk would like to employ the same totalitarian technique on the little Omsk kiddies. But this time round participation will be voluntary, of course.
And what will the ideology of the Bear Cubs be? The Mayor's press conference wasn't too clear on this issue, although we can assume it will retain the same emphasis on good, clean (honest) fun. Probably with some sort of inculcation of Edinaya Rossiya's values and aims, which are defined on the party's official website as the assurance of a stable future for Russian citizens, rooted in the psychology of success and recognition of the history of the people. Mind boggling, and I'm not at all sure how that would translate to the level of children. Any ideas of what the Bear Cubs might be learning about (always through play, mind) please let me know!
Unfortunately, however, the chairman of the local authority predicts a few difficulties in the implementation of the group since in the current situation, youth workers are not trained in ideological propaganda. However she is currently in Moscow discussing the issue, so this can surely be resolved soon. Wouldn’t want to keep the poor ideologically-deprived kiddies waiting too long, surely. Watch this space for further news on the movement and it's eventual realisation. Long Live the Bear!