Schoolgirls in Russia have been made to march through deep snow to demonstrate their patrotism, in a parade which has provoked outrage.
The demonstration in Yekaterinburg reinforces claims that Russia is reviving Soviet-style demonstrations of force under Vladimir Putin .
The shivering girls in the video, who were wearing skirts, are believed to be between 10 and 13, and were made to show off their marching skills despite a freak late April snow storm.
The schoolgirls – taking part in the contest ‘Sons and Daughters of Motherland’ organised by Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu, a close Putin ally – marched in summer shoes, white shirts, forage caps and light tights though ankle deep snow.
Boys wore light shirts and khaki trousers.
The shivering girls took the salute in front of military officers dressed in winter uniforms.
“I’d love to know surnames of these officers,” said Yekaterinburg resident Inna Nikulina.
“I can only imagine what they do in real army if they push children to march in their summer kits in snow. What swines.”
Another critic Ramilya Allayarova said: “I can’t stand the sight of warmly-dressed men watching girls marching in snow.
“How on earth do they send children to perform outside in such weather?”
Another said: “Are we at war? Whoever needs these Soviet-style drill competitions?
“How can anyone explain kicking these children outdoors, not properly dressed, into snow?”
A video spread on social media with a male voice saying: "This is a Russian Patriot competition.
“So girls dressed in summer pumps, skirts, shirts, tights stand in snow.. or, finally they move… in this kind of weather. This is how Russia grows its patriots, by taking girls out in such weather.”
The contest culminates in a ‘March of the Victors’ spectacle in Moscow in October.
Olga Rogulina, contest organiser, said an alternative venue could not be used because the floor was broken.
“We felt really sorry for children, of course,” she said, claiming they wanted to march and drill in the snow.
“They were issued with thermal underwear,” she said.
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