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Russia to aim pro-war propaganda at children with Down syndrome to make them feel “sense of belonging to the struggle”

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Russia’s Presidential Grants Foundation has supported a project to promote support for the invasion of Ukraine among children with Down syndrome, according to a report by media outlet We Can Explain (“Mozhem Obyasnit’”). The foundation has allocated 1.9 million roubles ($21,000) to the Vremya Peremen (“Time for Change”) organization for staging patriotic plays, “honoring veterans” and supporting territories occupied by Russia.

Children, teenagers, and young people with mental disabilities are anticipated to participate in rehearsal classes for choreography and vocals. They will be guided by a choreographer and vocal teacher as they learn the choreographic and vocal numbers of the musical mini-performance titled “Home, with Victory.”

“These activities will help the children feel a sense of belonging to the struggle for their independence, which our country waged during the Great Patriotic War and which it is waging now,” the project description says.
Vremya Peremen

Vremya Peremen (or “Time for Change”) is a regional organization for assisting in protecting the rights and legal interests of citizens with Down Syndrome and members of their families.

Screenshot of the project from the Presidential Grants Foundation website
Screenshot of the project from the Presidential Grants Foundation website

As pointed out by the We Can Explain project, this is not the only example of promoting a pro-war agenda among children with special developmental needs. Pavel Zayfidi, the founder of the Romanovsky Rehabilitation Center, has actively engaged children with intellectual disabilities in patriotic flash mobs.

Additionally, he has been granted funding to establish the Zalog Health Club (“Zalog Zdorovya” / «Zалог здоровья»), which caters to the needs of children with mental disabilities. The spelling of the health club is of note here – the first letter, Z, does not exist in the Russian alphabet. From mid-March 2022 onwards, the letter “Z” has been adopted by the Russian government as a pro-war propaganda motif, and has been appropriated by pro-Putin civilians as a symbol of support for Russia's invasion.

United Russia’s public reception office, meanwhile, organized a master class on making trench candles for children with cerebral palsy from a school in St. Petersburg in March this year. United Russia, chaired by Dmitry Medvedev, is Russia’s ruling political party, holding 325 (72.22%) of the 450 seats in the State Duma as of 2023.

Vremya Peremen

Vremya Peremen (or “Time for Change”) is a regional organization for assisting in protecting the rights and legal interests of citizens with Down Syndrome and members of their families.

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