Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the Patriot Park on Tuesday as nationalist feeling continues to grow.
Visitors to the park are fed on army rations, and the gift shop is full of Vladimir Putin accessories. The family park does not attract visitors with rollercoasters and games, but instead offers the chance to play with weapons and climb over military equipment, writes Shaun Walker for The Guardian.
Patriot Park promoting Putin’s ideals
The military theme park is found in Kubinka, an hour away from the Russian capital, Moscow. Putin officially opened the park on Tuesday, and it joins a growing tide of nationalistic initiatives. Patriotism and military rhetoric has been growing in Russia as tensions continue to rise with the West.
The situation has worsened since the Russian annexation of Crimea in April 2014, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine continues to be a major source of tension. The Patriot Park is yet another sign of the rising tide of aggressive rhetoric and nationalist feeling in the country.
At the opening, Putin announced that Russia would be adding 40 new intercontinental missiles to its nuclear arsenal this year. He claimed that the park would be “an important element in our system of military-patriotic work with young people.”
Russia’s military expansion on display
Alongside the theme park, the new attraction also boasts a conference and exhibition venue. The first event to be hosted is Army 2015, an exhibition displaying the latest Russian military equipment, which will be attended by military delegations from around the world.
As well as a speech from Putin, the opening event featured a military choir and a balalaika orchestra playing patriotic tunes. In his speech, Putin told assembled media that Russia was currently working on new pieces of military hardware which had “no equivalents in the world,” such as the Armata tank.
Worryingly for Western observers, he claimed that the new nuclear missiles would be “capable of overcoming even the most technically advanced missile defence systems.” The new missiles are supposedly Russia’s response to the West, which Russia’s deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov claims is “provoking an arms race.”
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg criticized the move. “This nuclear sabre-rattling of Russia is unjustified,” he said. “It’s destabilizing and it’s dangerous.”
Nationalist sentiments on the rise
Among the first visitors to the park were members of the pro-Putin biker group the Night Wolves, who are constructing a similar “patriotic park” near Sevastopol in the newly annexed Crimea.