Two Russian state-run television channels are each developing a series of patriotic programmes aimed at young Russians to be aired from December this year, Kommersant reported. The two series will run on Rossiya-2 Channel and Channel One and have been developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence, a move which some have decried as an official push to promote military patriotism in Russia.
The first four episodes of Survival of the Fittest, a reality show following professional soldiers in their fight for survival on a deserted island, is expected to air on Rossiya-2 from the start of December. The second show, Sendoff to the Army, will launch on Channel One from the start of 2015. The programme films ceremonies attended by officials from the Ministry of Defence in which conscripts are “sent off” into the army at Moscow's Olimiisky Stadium.
Svetlana Kuznetsova, chairwoman of Soldiers' Mothers, an NGO charity that campaigns for rights of soldiers and their families, told Kommersant that the programmes are part of a government propaganda campaign, noting that “there are fewer guys who don't want to go into the army now”. Kuznetsova links the move to strengthen militarisation with the conflict in Ukraine, warning of the susceptibility of young people to propaganda. “Between the ages of 17 and 18, young people are still children, and unfortunately they are very easy to fool, particularly through television,” Kuznetsova said.
Although President Vladimir Putin's administration has welcomed patriotic education in the country, officials have warned that the format of the programmes must be thought out properly. “Defending the homeland — that is our duty and honourable responsibility,” a government source told Kommersant. “Positive, rather than dated, propaganda of military service is always relevant, but a lot depends on how and to who this propaganda is directed.”
Since the start of the Ukraine crisis, a number of official patriotic cultural and educational projects have been launched by the government. In July, Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky launched the first summer youth camp to foster patriotism, which came just days before an announcement that a film festival exclusively devoted to Russian patriotic cinema would be established in Crimea. Earlier this month, a source from the Council of the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy told Kommersant that a number of patriotic educational projects are currently in the works in preparation for the commemoration of the Second World War next year.