The one-year anniversary of Moscow’s barbaric war in Ukraine was marked by several developments in Russia. A new all-Russian youth movement called The Movement of the First
, organized on the initiative of the Russian leadership, had its own TV channel DVIZH
registered. Vladimir Putin suggested to change the movement’s name to emphasize the continuity with the Soviet All-Union Pioneer Organization. And indeed eighty percent
of adult Russians support the idea of a Young Pioneers-like organization to instill patriotism and “traditional Russian values” in Russia’s youth.
Besides welcoming new chapters of The Movement of the First, many Russian schools have opened memorial spaces
to honor Russian “heroes” from the “special military operation” in Ukraine, while President Putin formalized these commemorative practices in a presidential order
. All the while Russia’s top e-commerce and shopping websites – Wildberries and Ozon – have noted record sales of paraphernalia with the logos of PMC Wagner. Fashion trendsetters have reported that military-inspired
bomber jackets, cargo pants and army boots were back in style as well.
These developments are the multiplying signs of the tightening nexus between patriotism and militarism in Russia. For nearly a decade, the Russian government has engaged in a top-down campaign of inculcating militarized patriotism in Russian citizens, for the primary purpose of legitimizing the regime, in the name of defending the Russian nation. Indeed, since his first presidency, Putin has attached great importance to patriotic education.
The government has adopted a complete set of laws and regulations for this purpose, implemented by over 30 federal agencies and their local branches in Russia’s regions. However, the priorities of the federal programs for patriotic education adopted by the Russian government every five years have changed
. Military themes and activities were elevated in the 2011-15 and 2016-20 programs, while the funding for militarized patriotism increased
from RUB 497.8 million for patriotic education in 2006-10 to RUB 771.2 million in 2011-2015, and RUB 1,886.5 million in 2016-20.