After the emergence of the subculture «PMC Ryodan» in Hrodna, the authorities tried to offer teenagers and their parents their leisure options through schools. The state media tell about youth police units and military-patriotic clubs. But the teenagers from Hrodna already attend sections and clubs outside school. Excursions and museums are interesting for them, if there is no ideology in them. Parents want the school not to interfere in their children’s upbringing.
- The education system reacted quickly
- The police have worked at all the schools in the region
- «Preparing for a protest«
- The alternative is to disassemble the weapon
- Schools are battling «Western values,» Halloween and individualism
- What do the parents and the school offer?
- The school’s interest is to make sure the kid doesn’t get into anything
- «Unless they are political in nature«
- Much time is spent in school, but often with overt ideological overtones
- School — education and socialization, family — parenting
On March 4, despite the day off, teachers and employees of the juvenile affairs inspectorate were on duty in Hrodna shopping centers. The representatives of the subculture «PMC «Ryodan», inspired by the fictional gang from the anime «Hunter x Hunter», announced a meeting there. Belarusian authorities decided to fight against it.
The education system reacted quickly
Teachers began sending to parental chat rooms in Viber information about the new subculture and warnings from the police not to let children go alone into shopping centers. Preventive talks were held with schoolchildren with looks resembling followers of the movement.
"You're fed up with your redans and offniks. we even had about 10 cops to school, all day at school teachers and cops were pestering just for black clothes or guys for bangs. we even canceled the sweet table. clowns, made a circus", - wrote in the chat room "time "redan" Grodno" some guy (spelling of the author is preserved).
In the aftermath, there were calls in the chat room not to come to the malls - not even to look.
"At 18:00 you will be waiting for the cops and maybe a couple of offniks. We don't want any conflicts with the cops, we just want them to stop harassing us", - someone wrote in the chat room.
The police have worked at all the schools in the region
Police worked all 310 schools and 35 colleges in the region. Teachers warned parents about the dangers of participating in the movement - even in chat rooms. A preventive conversation was held with 30 active teenagers. These are children from favorable complete families. There is a known case when a mother brought her child to the district department for a preventive conversation - she found spider emblems in her teenage son's phone.
The police advices are contradictory. They advise to create a trusting environment at home, to take an interest in the child's life. At the same time, they talk about controlling social networks and restricting Internet use.
"Preparing for a protest"
Pro-government activists soon linked PMC Ryodan and the elections to be held in Belarus in 2024 and 2025.
"Coordinated, abruptly, suddenly through social networks began propaganda of going out to unauthorized mass events, - said one of them. - The average age of children is 16. In two years, in 2025, they will be 18. Accordingly, these children will have the right to vote. Already now, different segments of the population are being prepared for the protest and for the elections in 2025".
@lanexxswag Лёгкий способ как очистить свои рекомендации от ЧВК редан и т.д #гродно ♬ Collide (sped up) - Justine Skye
Russian political scientist and veteran law enforcement officer Alexander Belyaev said the same thing. He said that the attention of teenagers is being captured, laying the foundations for the management of «militant groups». The movement Ryodan denied such opinions.
«PMC Redan does not pursue any political goals, we do not cover ourselves with state flags or anything else. We just want offniks and other bullshit to stop catching people for being Spiders», — wrote the teenagers.
The alternative is to disassemble the weapon
«If you have an excess of energy and lack of adrenaline, we suggest that you come with us to Khatyn, join the Youth Law Enforcement Units (YLEU), help veterans», — the pro-government BRSM association offered its alternative.
There are 55 detachments in the YLEU movement in Hrodna region, including 1,000 schoolchildren. The participants with law enforcers monitor order at events, conduct raids, go to tourist camps. They have advantages when enrolling in educational institutions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, army service, attending gyms, employment in student squads. It is possible to join the movement from the age of 14.
Also in Hrodna three military-patriotic clubs were opened in the last year on the basis of law enforcement institutions. These are:
- Military-patriotic club of the Ministry of Emergency Situations «Kronon» — 22 people from schools and gymnasiums of the city. They are told about the basics of safety and emergency aid.
- Club «Karbyshevtsy» — on the basis of the 557th engineering brigade of Belarusian Army. The participants of the club are 40 boys and girls, pupils of 8−9th grades of School No. 15 in Grodno. The schoolchildren will study engineering, attend a summer camp on the basis of the military unit, wear military uniforms, learn to disassemble weapons and render first aid.
- Zirkon Club — on the basis of military unit 5522. Classes are held on weekends. Children will be familiarized with weapons and told about the structure of the army.
There are also military-patriotic clubs at educational institutions. For members of such clubs there are benefits for enrollment to studies. Together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs they develop training programs. After their implementation schoolchildren without exams will enter specialized institutions — cadet schools, lyceums of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Emergency Situations, Suvorov school. Such clubs emphasize «patriotic» education, career guidance and employment of youth.
Schools are battling «Western values,» Halloween and individualism
Children have fewer and fewer opportunities to attend sports clubs and associations outside school. Since 2021, more than 10 sports organizations have been liquidated in Hrodna region. Two more will soon face a court hearing on liquidation. Even the sports and patriotic club «Honor of the Motherland», which prepared for admission to military and police universities and held meetings with OMON and special forces veterans, was liquidated.
For those who are not interested in militarism, schools have fewer offers to prove themselves. Educational institutions have banned «Western values». Kindergartens, schools and colleges will not allow Halloween celebrations, the appearance at New Year’s and other events of costumed characters «haggy-waggy and their like». According to the authorities, this promotes violence and antisocial behavior among children.
According to the law of 2022, the abundance of costume jewelry, piercings, bright extravagant makeup and hair color, festive hairstyles and accessories reflecting the symbols of music groups and various youth subculture and sports clubs are not welcome in school. Violations are punishable by reprimand or expulsion.
What do the parents and the school offer?
Parents choose movies at home, activities, excursions, skating, swimming pool for recreation with their children, parents of teenagers from Hrodna told Hrodna.life. They go for walks, to cafes, visits, travel around Belarus. They play board games and cook. Less often they go to the movies.
Children attend music schools, sports groups, do handicrafts, go to a pizzeria with friends. Some people note that there is little free time: children are busy in different groups. Not all parents have time to spend with their children together. Some parents leave their children only «their own» time — for example, to go out with friends to the stadium or to the shopping center to the food court.
Children receive an average of 15 to 80 rubles a month for entertainment. Some parents introduce a system of «fines» for miscalculations, some parents pay for what they consider necessary.
The schools offer:
- field trips,
- sports competitions,
- cultural and educational trips,
- making crafts,
- summer camp.
Parents have different attitudes towards the Internet: some parents limit the time their children spend on it. For example, they use a limit on the smartphone itself — up to three hours. Others do not limit the time, but review children’s social networks, check the youtubers they watch and ask them to remove some publications.
The school’s interest is to make sure the kid doesn’t get into anything
The school advises to pay attention to children’s behavior, to be aware of their location and contacts, including in social networks, parents told Hrodna.life. They talk about prevention of domestic violence, observance of child safety rules, Internet safety, promotion of healthy lifestyles. One of the moms was told that the school will be closely involved in the personal time of children. She believes that children are already busy with their studies — what more do they need?
«Parenting advice and Belarusian school are, in my opinion, incompatible notions. The school offers parents only what comes down from above: prevention of drug addiction, alcohol, suicide, sterile management of social networks, traffic safety. In short, everything that is in the interests of the school: so that the child does not get in and the school does not have problems afterwards», — says Lyudmila (name changed).
«Unless they are political in nature»
«We try to attend excursions [from the school] if they are not political in nature. Sports events — always and with pleasure, — said Andrei (name changed), the father of two teenagers. — It seems that [the school] has a pioneer organization. Our class teacher, we have to give her credit, shields our children from it to the last».
His children relax by walking outside, playing games on their phones, texting with friends. They know there is enrollment in a military-patriotic class at school, but they don’t want to go. They can save the money their parents give them for the shuttle bus by using free public transportation.
«I do dancing, walk with friends, sit in my phone, weave beaded bracelets. When it’s warm, we go with friends to Zhiliber’s Park or to cafes, pizzerias, — said 12-year-old Marina (name changed). — [I get] about 30 rubles a month for small expenses. Other entertainment is paid for by my parents. I went to the theater once with my class, and I went to camp during the vacations.
Marina's mother Olga knows that the school has a pioneer organization and BRSM. She laconically answers "No!" about the possibility for her children to join it.
- I try to communicate minimally with the school, only when absolutely necessary. Mostly advice on behavior. They advise me to "discipline" her, because she talks a lot, asks uncomfortable questions, snaps. But I do not think that because of this it is necessary to "harass". Since the ability to defend their point of view - a very important quality and it should be learned in adolescence, but do it tactfully. It is normal to ask questions, even not very convenient ones, because children and teenagers have inquisitive minds. Adults should adequately answer such questions rather than shutting the child up. Also advice on appearance - do not like the style of clothes too loose and bright accessories, - said the mother of teenagers - a boy and a girl.
Much time is spent in school, but often with overt ideological overtones
"Judging by the announcements that appear in class and parent groups, a lot of things are carried out at school. But quite often it has either some unconcealed ideological-educational connotation that children themselves do not like, or we realize that something should have been written into the plan, and now we have to hold something. So we ignore such events. But sometimes there are neutral entertainments, when children, for example, go to the cinema, theater, or what excursion trips take place - then we try to take part for the sake of broadening their horizons and additional socialization", - said the father of teenagers Aliaksei (name changed).
When preparing vacations, he takes into account the weather, time of year, mood and wishes of the children. He plays board games with them, goes to the movies or to cultural and entertainment events, goes to the nature. "We try to travel whenever possible to show Belarus and the world to our children", - said Aliaksei.
According to him, the school has formal youth unions - like "pioneers". "It seems there are groups, laboratories, something artistic, maybe sports sections. But we don't force to join anywhere, and the children themselves don't want to. They have enough additional activities outside of school, which they go to with pleasure".
School — education and socialization, family — parenting
As for parenting advice, more often it is 'compulsive advertising against drugs'. «Well, and waves of information on current topics. Like someone got into a fight somewhere, ran away, robbed someone, like the recent „Ryodan“. There are preventive informational hours with children all over the country, including in parental chat rooms. In general, it is felt that the school is trying to perform an parenting function, but most often it is excessive ideologizing and moralizing is mixed with the old approaches of compulsory, formalism, conducting because 'it is necessary', not because 'it is really necessary' and, most importantly — interesting to children. It is true that there is no rigid imposition; more often than not, one can either formally serve the obligatory activities, or not participate at all, not react».
Aliaksei believes that school should perform the function of education and socialization, while upbringing should be left to the family: «In any case, we have trusting relations with our children, we parents know how they live, and we always discuss sensitive or dangerous topics together».