Russian President Vladimir Putin railed against anti-government protesters in a speech Thursday comparing them to child sex traffickers and suicide cultists because they supposedly use the Internet to exploit young people.
Putin was addressing We Are Together, one of several nationwide volunteer groups launched in the spring of 2020 which aimed to help Russians struggling to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its restrictions.
“I would like to congratulate you on a whole year of your joint work in this wonderful, noble, and highly appreciated field of supporting those who badly need a helping hand. It is especially gratifying that someone has been doing this during the most difficult time in recent years, one of the most challenging periods of our time, during the pandemic,” Putin told volunteers.
After reviewing the achievements of the group and expressing appreciation for its individual and corporate sponsors – “as many as 10,000 companies and five million people,” according to Putin – the Russian president regaled the crowd with political musings. In a bizarre shift in tone, Putin hammered the importance of controlling the Internet and forcing it to comply with “the moral laws of our society.”
Putin identified the great moral menaces of the Internet as child pornography, child prostitution, drug abuse, suicide bullies, and people who hold “unauthorized rallies” to harass him for such acts as using chemical weapons to murder political opponents:
Unfortunately, we have to deal with more than just calls to take part in unauthorized rallies. We are all adults here, and we are aware of it, why not face it? What can be found in cyberspace is child pornography, child prostitution, and the promotion and distribution of drugs among children and adolescents. They are encouraged to take to the streets and brawl with the police, and then hide behind children thus putting them on the spot.
What does it mean? It means using children as an object, it means using children as a tool for achieving someone’s selfish objectives, and it is always a source for using children to earn profit. Strange as it is, including by urging a minor to commit suicide. And there they find a way to profit off it too. It is amazing. I see that my colleague opened his eyes in surprise and made an understandable gesture with his hands. These were exactly my feelings when I learnt about it.
And when the police catch up to these monsters, can you imagine, they turn into totally different people. They surf the internet, pretending to be tough like Rambo, and urge a girl or a boy to jump off a roof – and they concoct a whole story to entice him or her to do it. But as soon as the police arrive, they literally crap their pants. Such bastards sitting there, you know. Like an insect no one feels sorry about crushing. They urge girls and boys to commit suicide. And in doing all this they also earn money by posting ads and doing other things.
“When we are talking about children, of course to some they are an object for exploitation, to some they are a tool for achieving selfish goals, to some they are a source of earning money and making profit, but to us they are an absolute treasure. That is the truth,” Putin concluded.
Putin’s regime is deeply worried about the growing number of young people participating in “unauthorized” demonstrations. Russian Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin said Friday his office has “received data about participation of 1,422 minors in illegal rallies.”
Bastrykin’s idea for fighting the “crisis” involved increasing “educational programs aimed at providing knowledge and skills that would shield children from manipulation techniques in the future,” in addition to limiting their free time so they cannot participate in protests.
“I have reiterated Marx’s idea many times: in order to keep a teenager from partaking in such actions, they should not have a single minute of spare time,” Bastrykin said.