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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK
Russia launches patriotism drive
By Steve Rosenberg
BBC News, Moscow

Members of pro-Putin youth group Nashi (Ours). File photo
A new pro-Putin youth group has been formed recently
The Russia government has approved a plan to make people more patriotic.

The $17m programme will urge youths to mark military victories, and will fund the re-introduction of military-style games in schools.

There will also be healthy lessons in the curious subject of "correct reproductive behaviour" - Kremlin-speak for patriotic sex education.

Boosting patriotism is one of President Vladimir Putin's priorities but it is unclear if the move will achieve that.

The Soviet Union may have been short on freedom and democracy, but the one thing it had plenty of was patriotism.

For decades, one-sixth of the world's land surface was adorned with hammers, sickles and busts of Lenin.

The country echoed to the sound of spectacular military parades on Moscow's Red Square.

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin has a patriotic five-year plan
It all went some way to make up for the sausage queues and the rusty Lada cars, and help persuade the population they were part of a superpower.

Until, of course, the USSR fell apart, and the patriotic bubble burst.

Now, though, the Russian government has decided to restore lost pride with something very Soviet - a five-year plan.

Bearing the grand title The State Programme for the Patriotic Education of Citizens, it quadruples government spending on patriotic projects.

There will be more flags, more CDs with the national anthem, more computer games celebrating the might of the Russian army.

'Spiritual backbone'

There are plans to organise patriotic song contests and competitions for Patriot of the Year.

Soviet-style military training will be reintroduced into schools.

And to improve the moral standing of the young generation, there will be lessons in "correct reproductive behaviour".

The plan aims to make patriotism the "spiritual backbone" of Russia and is designed to "counter attempts in the media at discrediting patriotic ideas".

The Kremlin sees the measures as vital for preserving national unity and state security.

It is unclear, though, whether this particular programme will achieve that - after all, money alone can't buy love for the motherland.


SEE ALSO:
'Our People' stand up for Putin
28 Apr 05 |  Europe
Putin deplores collapse of USSR
25 Apr 05 |  Europe
Analysis: Putin's balancing act
26 Apr 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Russia
03 Jul 05 |  Country profiles


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