“Bike Show” agitprop

An Olympics-scale performance staged on August 9 in the Crimean military port of Sevastopol depicted the official Russian version of Ukraine’s Maidan revolution — complete with huge dancing human swastikas, lynchings, burnings, firings of Kalashnikovs, and symbols depicting the US (dollar signs, eagles, the Eye of Providence), the Right Sector, and the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.”

Ostensibly organized by Russian biker club “Night Wolves” (Ночные волки) but clearly with a massive budget, the performance was broadcast nationally on the Rossiya-2 (Russia 2) state television network. Rather like Cirque du Soleil staging some Al-Qaedaesque millenarian nightmare, and bringing to mind Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, it is a disturbing example of what happens when cultural institutions are harnessed in the name of wartime propaganda.

Mat Babiak, editor of the Euromaidan Press web site, provides a detailed analysis (with numerous still photos) here. The original show in its entirety can be viewed on Rossiya-2. The web site for the “Triumphant Bike Show,” which began in Moscow and ended in Sevastopol, is here. For some images of the bikers themselves, see Google’s image database.

While the comments on the Euromaidan site reflect the shock, dismay, and befuddlement of Ukrainian viewers, those on the Russian Twitter feed express the delight of many Russian “patriotic” viewers.

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