School holidays are still ongoing but Russian influence activities are not resting. Children from Estonia took part in the Orljonok camp in Russia in the summer where they could experience Kremlin propaganda and patriotic education.
Camp Orljonok (eagle’s son) is located in Russia on the Black Sea, about 150 km northwest of Sochi. Created in 1960, the Soviet pioneer youth camp is still a sought after holiday destination in Russia, with thousands of children every year attending with varying degrees of education. The majority of campers aged 11-16 come from Russia but also from countries with Russian influence as well as elsewhere. The camp is characterized by having a strong organizational side and in depth communication on their website, media and social media.
In Orljonok, children in addition to having a fun holiday unfortunately will be inundated with the Kremlin’s intense propagandist patriotic military training. The camp regularly celebrates various Army anniversaries (Paratroopers’ Day, Navy Day) and commemorates the Red Army history and Soviet events as well as the Komsomol. Putin’s power party, One Russia and various power structures are all present. The pictures are full of military uniforms, weapons, military equipment and St. George medal ribbons. Characteristically there are mass events, flag waving various marches, Junarmija red kerchiefs and berets. Quite likely, everything that the youth encounter at the camp will have a patriotic brainwashing spin. Read more about the life views of the children who visited the camp here.
A list published on the Internet reveals that in the group at least seven children and youth from Estonia have been „resting“ at the camp this year. A search based on public sources reveals they come from four different Estonian schools: Lasnamäe Russian high school, Tallinn City Centre Russian high school, Jõhvi State high school and Narva old town State School.
Estonian children are recruited to the Kremlin propaganda camp under the banner of learning the Russian language and culture. The invitation to apply to the camp is being given out by the Russian Embassy in Estonia and distributed in Estonian schools by the NGO Pushkin Institute, headed by Andrei Krasnoglazov. He is a key figure in a network directly linked to the Kremlin’s soft power and influence activity structure abroad under the Russki Mir Foundation. Krasnoglazov has organized youth camps dealing with community disruptive activities and his activities have been written about by KAPO (Estonian Security Police). Estonian youth have been recruited to Orljonok for pro-Kremlin Education for many years and the system is being implemented in Russian speaking Estonian schools through language and literature teachers.
According to Propastop, links between Estonian children and young people from other countries are welcome, but they must not take place in the context of a hostile military and foreign nation’s patriotic propaganda youth camp. Therefore, Estonian students should not take part in Kremlin propaganda camps. All activities in Estonia under the banner of Russian Soft power need better control.
Pictured are screenshots of Orljonok’s website and some accounts.