Last week, Russian leader Vladimir Putin personally opened a new theme park honouring the nation’s military past. The stern-sounding ‘Patriot Park’ features heavy weaponry exhibitions and interactive displays featuring grenade launchers!
Pitched as fun for the whole family, the wacky theme park is part of a wider political plan. Russia’s military has been a staple of the country’s past and it’s nationhood. The venue is located just an hour outside of Moscow, and constitutes a nationalistic masterpiece: a ‘Disney Land’ propaganda. Putin arrived at the opening by helicopter, ensuring that the grand opening was reminiscent of those entrances once made by the now-notorious ‘Man Of Steel’.
Members of the pro-Putin motorcycle gang (we’re serious!), ‘The Night Wolves’, were on-hand to express their enthusiasm for the project.
“In Soviet times the army was a distant, faraway thing, but now we all feel closer to the army. The army is being romanticised and I see that as a good thing,” Alexander Zaldostanov told The Guardian. “If we don’t educate our own children then America will do it for us … like we have seen in Ukraine.”
Sergei Privalov, a Russian Orthodox priest in attendance at the gala opening, echoed the biker’s sentiment.
“I think this park is a gift to Russian citizens, who can now behold the full power of the Russian armed forces. Being here gives you a sense of internal self-sufficiency and makes you confident we can defend our territory. Children should come here, play with the weaponry and climb on the tanks and see all the most modern technology, which they would not have known about before.”
The Kubinka complex is expected to be completed in 2017, eventually hosting several hotels and a plush entertainment centre. The ‘Patriot Park’ cost the government a whopping 20 billion roubles (£236m), making it one of the most memorably ambitious pieces of political theatre in recent memory. Designed to bolster support around the floundering Putin, the park will do little to curb an economy in free-fall.
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