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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Schoolchildren Depict Ukrainians Being Hanged in Kremlin-Funded Comic Book Contest

After Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the government allocated some grant funding to various projects aimed at bolstering support for the war. One such initiative was a comic book contest, where some graphic artwork showed dead Ukrainian soldiers.

A comic page drawn by a teenager that includes a hanging scene

A page from the "Heroes of Russian Victories" contest booklet

Agents Media

Graphic depictions of hangings and the killing of Ukrainians marked the endings of some comics created by Russian children during the "Heroes of Russian Victories" contest.

The aim of the contest was to portray the exploits of Russia's historical and contemporary heroes. The artworks saw depictions of the deeds of Soviet soldiers during World War II, but others focused on Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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The Presidential Grants Foundation allocated nearly 3 million rubles ($37,000) to finance the project. The grant was awarded to My Choice, an organization with ties to the party of Russian President Vladimir Putin, which is dedicated to guiding Russian youth in "patriotic education."

The center used the money to host comic book creation masterclasses, and to organize the competition. Snippets from some of the stories also appeared on the grants foundation’s social network.

Comic pages by a teenager, featuring soldiers and explosions

A page from the "Heroes of Russian Victories" contest booklet

Agents Media

Patriotic ideals

In one of the images, the comic book portrays a story about Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, a Soviet partisan executed by German soldiers in 1941. The comic, written by a 15-year-old, ends with a bloodstained Kosmodemyanskaya being hanged.

We can't let Ukrainian Nazis get away.

Another shows the ending of a comic about the war in Ukraine, where Russian soldiers blow up artillery and people with the words: "We can't let Ukrainian Nazis get away."

The authors of the project said in their grant application that the current generation "resists or ignores attempts to instill in it the traditional concept of patriotism." They added that they hope to allow teenagers to "present their patriotic beliefs to society."

The announcement of the competition winners took place on June 2 at Poklonnaya Hill, home to a World War II memorial in Moscow. A total of 10 selected stories, three of which focused on the war in Ukraine, were curated in a journal comprising 3,000 copies.

The booklets were given to the participants, with the remaining copies intended for distribution among schools and youth organizations.

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food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

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