‘Loyal to the motherland’: joining Russia’s Youth Army

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Himalaya Times
Read Time = 2 mins

At the Stalingrad Battle Museum in Russia's southern city of Volgograd, dozens of teenagers stand in a circle, waiting to take oath as they join the patriotic Youth Army movement.

Dressed in beige trousers and red berets, the children stand in rows in the building's iconic Triumphant Hall, decorated in white marble and symbols of the Red Army crushing the Nazis.

"Do you swear to always be loyal to the motherland?" a group leader said.
"I swear!" they replied in chorus.

Some parents watched as their children took the oath in the presence of officials, war veterans and local leaders of the militaristic youth group.

Daria Chertkova said her 12-year-old son Stanislav made a "conscious decision" to join the group by himself.
"We supported it," she told AFP.

The family had always been patriotic and interested in the past, the 31-year-old mother said. But Moscow's offensive in Ukraine and the fallout over it pushed them to take their patriotism a step further.

"He knows about the special military operation," Chertkova said, using Moscow's term for the offensive. "In part, what is happening in the world influenced his decision."

She hopes her younger son, who is six years old, will also join the movement.
"For a boy, I think the main thing is: to love your country, to defend your motherland, to be a patriot."

Patriotic education has been on the rise in Russia for years, but it has taken centre stage since the Kremlin sent troops to Ukraine almost a year ago.

According to the Youth Army's website, more than 1.2 million children have joined its ranks since the movement was launched in 2016. The group accepts children between eight and 18 years old. It is heavily focused on the memory of the Soviet war effort against the Nazis.


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