Dancing Commandos and Tank Ballet: Putin’s Military Playground
Policy + Politics

Dancing Commandos and Tank Ballet: Putin’s Military Playground

Just because the Russian military is promising to deploy advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles on the borders of Europe, continues to fly provocative air patrols near its neighbors’ borders, and has played an ill-disguised role in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine doesn’t mean the Kremlin’s armed forces don’t know how to have fun.

In a ceremony this week that featured balaclava-wearing dancers in spetsnaz (special forces) uniforms doing the robot dance – actually, let’s just stop there for a moment. Guys in commando gear doing the robot dance. Really. Drink it in:

Okay, moving on. 

The dancing commandos were part of a ceremony inaugurating Patriot Park, a military theme park that Russian President Vladimir Putin opened this week in the town of Kubinka. 

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According to state-owned Sputnik News, the park offers visitors “a unique opportunity to ‘test’ Russia's heavy weapons, such as the T-90 tank, or the famous Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter. Although only military training simulators are on offer, they still give the full experience of carrying out a special mission to their intrepid pilots and drivers, both young and old alike. Visitors will also be able to shoot Kalashnikov rifles and take part in extreme sports.” 

Though construction on some parts of the facility isn’t expected to wrap up until 2017, Putin helped open the park this week to visitors as well as to participants in the 2015 “international military-technical expo,” featuring the many defense-related products that Russian arms manufacturers sell around the world.

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Beyond serving as a conference site, Putin said that the park would be "an important element in [Russia's] system of military-patriotic work with youth,” Sputnik reported.

Among other things, the park is slated to offer paintball, extreme sports, slot machines, equestrian grounds, simulated parachute jumps, and displays of Russian military might, including something called “tank ballet,” which is actually a thing.

Above all, the park will be a monument to the Russian military.  It will include large historical reconstructions representing various conflicts, including Napoleon’s ill-fated invasion of Russia in 1812, both world wars, and Russia’s war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

The park will be open to families, who will be able to stay in hotels that, according to promotional materials, “will be in the form of bunkers, dugouts and trenches with stoves, field kitchens and baths. The family can gather in the day and plunge at any time into the history of the Great Patriotic War.”

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It was unclear whether rats, trench foot, and lice would be included.

Finally, like any good amusement park, it has a gift shop. Guardian newspaper reporter Shaun Walker found that it boasts a wide range of refrigerator magnets, memorializing some interesting figures in Russian history:

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