Russia promotes assault rifle lessons for schoolkids

Peter Spinella –
The Russian government is recommending that schools nationwide provide lessons on how to maintain an assault rifle in a revival of the “life safety fundamentals” taught during the Cold War.
The initiative, intended for children roughly 13 and up, comes against the backdrop of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mikhail Kalashnikov, who in the late 1940s designed the world’s most prolific assault rifle, the AK-47, as his country recovered from World War II.
The lessons will include the “spiritual and moral” act of using assault rifles to defend the country, Russia’s Education Ministry said in a presentation of the curriculum.
The ministry said that children will be taught about the role of killing in defence of their homeland and of the Kalashnikov rifle in shaping the country’s “historical memory” and its “Russian identity.”
The lessons are also to “help schoolchildren to comprehend the moral dilemma that any inventor of armaments faces,” the Education Ministry said.
“Every year a quarter of a million people die from a bullet of an AK,” according to the ministry. “More people have been killed from a Kalashnikov assault rifle than from artillery fire, aircraft bombardment or missile attacks.”
Prominent opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov referred to the ministry’s presentation of the initiative — published last week — as an unacceptable glorification of killing.
The government is presenting “killing as many people as possible” as part of Russian identity, Gudkov said in a statement.
Russian policy expert Maria Snegovaya suggested that the initiative was part of a propaganda effort intended to instil fear of an outside enemy to distract from increasing social and economic hardships within the country.
“To preserve control over the population the Kremlin attempts to instil the Orwellian idea of the besieged fortress — Russia surrounded by enemies,” said Snegovaya, an adjunct fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis.
Kalashnikov served in the Soviet army in World War II, during which his country, invaded by Nazi German forces, suffered tens of millions of casualties, the highest of any Allied power.
Kalashnikov introduced his signature AK assault rifle in 1947, two years after the war. The inventor, who died in 2013 at the age of 94, attested that his weapons were solely for defence.
“A weapon is not a tractor or a combine harvester, or a seeder or a plow. You cannot plow land with it. You cannot grow grain. But without it you cannot defend your native land, your people, from the enemy,” Kalashnikov is quoted as saying in a biography. — dpa