Among the engines of war is propaganda. Tool used in the West and in the East with the same value: “make the people believe that what your state is doing is right and you will be right if you follow the leitmotif of propaganda”.
Among the rules of good propaganda is the creation of tools for its realization: school systems, cultural centres, sports competitions, NGOs, centers for charitable works. In modern terms we also speak of soft power. But the purpose is always the same to justify the actions of an organization: state, religion, multinational, football team, etc.
Every organization has its own propaganda. Businesses use tools to sell, politics totalitarianism to maintain the pre-established order; even in a democracy there is propaganda which is often, but not only, in a negative sense; for example, the boorish one of scandals. Operations that happen to break out at particular moments for a country’s democracy.
To return to war and propaganda, even war has its own narrative. And still in 2023 the best narrative is that of the birth of heroes. It is effective for many reasons: it maintains a sense of homeland and patriotism in the population, where it cannot be nurtured with the right examples; it makes war human and close to people, it gives a meaning to a death that otherwise would not have any, it nourishes the sense of unity, it increases the sense of equality between the different social classes.
The hero is a person who knows how to distinguish himself for acts of courage even to the detriment of himself by dying at the front or to save human lives.
Since the start of the special operation, the Russian Federation has devoted a lot of time and economic resources to honoring its heroes. Obviously, as always, we start from those of the Patriotic War, which also include the Ukrainians, the Belarusians, the Poles, the Cossacks, and all those Russian citizens then and today would be republics of the former Soviet Union. Honoring the heroes of Donbass who died for a Donbass in Russia, military men like military Alexander Potapov, who died saving two civilians as a human shield; doctors, nurses, nurses like Tula Christina Kim, alive and well, who rescued 12 airborne men by moving them from the front line as they were wounded. And more volunteers and finally the child heroes.
The child hero is a classic, marketing teaches that in advertising where there are children, about 20% more is sold. And yet the child arouses emotion, empathy, the desire to contribute to the success of what the child wants to do in the hearts of everyone and of all social classes. The most famous example in Europe is Greta Tumberg with her media campaign for the environment, which went viral in a very short time.
At present the most exalted living figures of Russia’s minor war heroes are two children. The first very famous in May 2022 is just over 6 years old, Alyosha, who always greets military vehicles leaving for the front with a military salute.
A May 18 post read: “The special operation (if not the whole of Russia) has a new hero. Recently, a video featuring a boy, Alyosha, who regularly meets with Russian servicemen, went viral on the web, giving them a military salute.”
In honor of him, the Ministry of Defense launched a flash mob #ThanksLesha, and ordinary users began to devote their creativity to the child. Online you can find retouched photos, such as portraits, pencil portraits, murals in the cities of Donbass dedicated to him. “Alyosha is a bright image of a child who wholeheartedly supports our soldiers and the country. These are the symbols Russia should have.” It reads in another post.
Another Russian war hero these days is a Russian teenager who, under the bullets of a group of Ukrainian saboteurs who were shooting at a car in the Bryansk region while he was wounded, took two little girls and took them to the forest to shelter from bullets. The young man’s name is Fedor.
The tam tam of requests for help was immediate, from prayers for the boy to medical care, a request also made with flyers affixed to the plants. The video is now viral. Currently, as Governor Alexander Bogomaz explained, the young man is fine. Propaganda on social media reports the following messages: Alexander Bogomaz “visited the hero of Bryansk: the governor noticed the courage and masculinity of the boy who saved two girls during the terrorist attack”. And he continues: “Today, the governor of the Bryansk region visited the already well-known Fedor, meeting him and his mother, Bogomaz noted the boy’s composure and masculinity. The boy contains suffering, does not complain and even tries to cheer up his mother. Alexander said that Fedor’s family will receive a complete help, keeps in touch with his family. She will also be provided with assistance to other victims of the terrorist attack – now deputy governors work in Klimovsk. They will meet the residents, as well as visit the families of the victims and will do everything to provide them with the assistance they need.”
Representatives of the “United Russia Youth Guard” also paid tribute to the new hero who “visited the young Hero Fedor in the Bryansk regional children’s hospital, who, despite being wounded, saved two girls from a terrorist attack”. “The young people handed over to the head physician of the hospital, Viktor Ivanovich Alexa, a tablet, an easel and a poster with words of support for Fedor, which the doctors promised to hang in the boy’s ward, and for his mother – flowers and a letter of thanks from the Deputy Secretary of the General Council of United Russia, Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Anna Kuznetsova”.
The post from the Russian Social Sphere reads again: “The young hero will certainly be encouraged by the award of the newly created project of the United Russia party – “Time of Heroes”, as well as the medal of the “Young Guard” – “Young Hero”. We will definitely be visiting a family with six children in the near future.” “Today we came to the Bryansk region to support little Fedor and his family, which, of course, is an example for all families in our country. Two brothers of the little hero are now engaged in a special military operation and, I am sure, defend the interests of our country with dignity. We will continue to monitor the boy’s health and support his family. After Fedor’s recovery, we will definitely invite him to Moscow and organize an excursion for him to Patriot Park and other significant places of the capital,” said Anton Demidov, chairman of the United Russia Youth Guard.