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In the lead up to Russia Day, the Kremlin takes to social media

Source: Meduza
Igor Onuchin / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

With Russia Day coming up on June 12, the Kremlin’s official preparations are well underway. And despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the authorities are hoping for mass participation. In its presentation for the Presidential Administration, the government’s preferred PR agency, IMA-Consulting, revealed that next week we’ll see everything from flash mobs in Russian cities, to patriotic Instagram filters, and Russian-themed “sticker packs” on the messaging app Telegram. Patients fully recovered from the coronavirus will receive tricolor ribbons and buttons that say “We defeated the coronavirus.” The Presidential Administration is even planning to launch its own challenges on TikTok.

Photographs of doctors, police officers, janitors, and couriers will adorn the Kremlin walls

The main slogans for the Russia Day celebrations — which are set to go on for all of next week — include the hashtags #МЫРОССИЯ, #МЫВМЕСТЕ, and #ЯЛЮБЛЮТЕБЯЖИЗНЬ (these can be translate as #WeAreRussia, #WeAreTogether, and #ILoveYouLife, respectively). The Presidential Administration, as well as pro-government media, plan on using these hashtags to promote Kremlin events on social networking sites. 

A source close to the Presidential Administration provided Meduza with IMA-Consulting’s presentation of its planned Russia Day campaign. The presentation’s preamble says that “the main value of our country at all times is people”; that “They are all our heroes, so Russia Day should be dedicated to them.” In that spirit, photographs of people who “continue to work for our sake” during the coronavirus pandemic are set to appear on billboards in Russian cities, as well on banners online.

The #WeAreRussia ad campaign

In the capital, the facades of the Russian White House and the Moscow Manege, as well as the Kremlin walls, will be reserved for photos of police officers, doctors, janitors, and food vendors — but nearly all of the figures in the ads are wearing masks. Graffiti on the theme of the fight against the coronavirus is also set to appear in Russian cities. 

Bears and balalaikas on ‘Telegram,’ Bezrukov and birch trees on ‘TikTok’

The ad campaign also suggests launching a number of “sticker packs” on the popular messaging app Telegram. One of them is based on the image of a bear with a balalaika, wearing traditional Russian clothes, such as a vatnik (a padded jacket) and an ushanka (a fur cap with ear flaps). There will also be patriotic Instagram filters, but there are no details on what images they will show as of yet.

Officials in the Presidential Administration also want to take the Russia Day celebrations to the popular video sharing app TikTok. Their first planned TikTok challenge — called the “Tricolor” — encourages users to record videos that end with phrases like “We are Russia” or “I love Russia,” and then draw the Russian flag, or construct it out of appropriately colored objects.

They’ve also planned a TikTok flash mob under the hashtags #ПесниМоейСтраны and #ДомТамГдеБереза (these can be translated as “songs of my country” and “home is where the birch is”). The challenge is described as follows: “Users from Russia and compatriots abroad will share their photos and videos against the backdrop of birches (using the song ‘Otchego tak v Rossii bereyozy shumyat’).” Russian actor Sergey Bezrukov is supposed to kick off this particular challenge. His TikTok account has over 66,000 followers. 

Russians nationwide will bake pies and sing the national anthem

The Presidential Administration is planning to hand out 20 million tricolor ribbons in the next week. Patients who have recovered from the coronavirus will also receive ribbons, as well as buttons that say “We defeated the coronavirus.” In honor of Russia Day, singing the “chorus of a popular song” for doctors will also be encouraged (the presentation doesn’t say which song). Since June 12 also lands in the middle of Russia’s “Donor Week” (June 8–15), blood donors are set to receive tricolor ribbons too. This initiative has been announced in several regions already. 

A “Flags of Russia” flash mob is also being planned for June 12: participants are expected to hang the Russian tricolor in their windows or on their balconies. Flags are set to appear in “Russia’s remarkable and unusual places,” as well. That same day, “family choirs” are expected to sing the national anthem and “popular songs about Russia” in the main squares of cities across the country.

Plans for the “Flags of Russia” flash mob

Yet another initiative will take place under the slogan “Bake a pie and say thank you.” In the presentation, it is described as follows: “Celebrities will launch the initiative on social media: giving homemade pies to whoever you want to thank and saying ‘thank you.’ The pie will have a small tricolor on it.” 

Posts promoting this initiative have already appeared on social media:

The organizers anticipate that the biggest flash mob will be the “Windows of Russia” initiative, which calls on people to put up a picture or a celebratory sign in their windows. According to the presentation, “Windows of Russia” stencils and stickers will be available for delivery via online vendors (such as “Yandex.Lavka,” “Yandex.Eda,” “SberMarket,” and “Beru”) or for download via “Yandex.Collections.” However, in conversation with Meduza, SberMarket was unable to confirm this information and the Yandex press service said they were “not planning such activities.”

Government “activists” are also planning to put on concerts in the courtyards of over 500 buildings, for residents to watch from their windows and balconies. The Russian national anthem should be performed from the same balconies “at an appointed time” (or so the presentation says). 

Plans for the “Russia Helps” flash mob

Meanwhile, another flash mob called “Russia Helps” will see “foreigners on social media say ‘thank you’ to Russia as a whole, or to individual people for their help and support.” Officials are also launching an aggregator site with event announcements and official Russia Day concerts will be announced on television. 

Story by Andrey Pertsev

Translation by Eilish Hart 

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