DATELINE

RUSSIA’S MILITARY KIDS

DR 04: Josh Mc

VISION

AUDIO

PTT

 

EXT. RED SQUARE – MILTARY PARADE – DAY.

We open on GRAINY, DAMAGED 8MM FOOTAGE of a military parade in Moscow’s red square.

Giant, MACHINES OF WAR, on land and sky, thunder through frame followed by thousands of SOLDIERS marching in perfect time, as if they were machines themselves.

HEAVY RAIN drenches what appears to be a show of military might from the bygone, Soviet past. But… We are, in the present day.

TITLE: Moscow, May 09 2021.

 

 

 

 

SOTS: *Tanks, Ballistic Missile Transports, Attack Helicopters, Fighter Jets*

 

SOTS: Boots Thumping on the ground. Crowds cheering.

EXT. RED SQUARE – MILTARY PARADE – DAY.

 

The 8mm film effect comes off we see the BOMBASTIC PARADE continue in all it’s terrifying scope and colour.

 

VO: This is how Russia celebrates its Anzac Day.

 

VO: For Russians, May  9 is Den’ Pobedy (*Gin Pa-bee-air-day) Victory Day.

 

VO: Commemorating the surrender of the Nazi’s at the end of World War 2, it’s marked by a public holiday and nation-wide military parades.

 

SOT: Cheering crowds!

 

EXT. RED SQUARE – MILTARY PARADE –

 

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN places a single flower, then makes a speech to the troops and the world.

 

VO: During Putin’s reign, the scale of celebrations and the zeal of his rhetoric has hit levels unseen since the Soviet era.      

 

PUTIN: SOT [subtitled] Unfortunately, many of the ideologies of the Nazis – are to be reactivated. Hooray!

 

[NOTE: Kremlin has better translation:

 

Unfortunately, attempts are made to deploy a large part of Nazi ideology and the ideas of those who were obsessed with the delusional theory of their own supremacy.

 

VO: It’s a message to Russia and the rest of the world.

 

VO: But in recent years, V-Day has become part of a state initiative targeting a growing part of the population...

 

INT. BUNKER – DAY.

 

In a weapon’s cage a SOLDIER passes a large MACHINE GUN to a 10-year-old boy in full army, camouflage fatigues – VITALY.

 

 

VITALY – THOUGHT TRACK [subtitled]I want to defend my motherland so there’d be no wars, so no one would attack us, like when the Fascist troops started advancing upon us.

 

VO: What do Putin and his military want with Russia’s children?

TITLE: RUSSIA’S MILITARY KIDS

V-DAY in Z City

 

EXT. ZHUKOVSKI  - DAY

 

 

An overcast day. Gloom on top of gloom. Rain on top of rain.

 

TEXT ONSCREEN:

ZHUKOVSKI, POPULATION 107,558

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXT. ZHUKOVSKI - DAY

 

What would normally be glamour, city shots look instead like they were found in the gutter in the pages of a wet magazine.

 

 

 

The camera finds a DECREPIT building – tracks through the front doors and down some stairs into a dark bunker.

 

 

Here we find…

VO: 25kms from Moscow -named after the father of Russian aerodynamics, - Zhukovski is promoted as a centre for aviation, innovation.

VO: In reality, it’s a significantly working-class town.

 

VO: It’s poorest suburbs can be hard, austere places, especially for the young… but today is a time to celebrate.

 

INT. KASKAD BUNKER – CONTINUOUS

 

VITALY… 10 years old. Proudly wearing army fatigues. His father DIMITRY sews a ceremonial rope onto his son’s uniform.

 

 

 

 

VITALY: SOT [subtitled] Just don’t pierce me!

 

VO: With a little help from Dad, 10-year-old Vitaly is getting ready for V-Day in Zhukovski.

DAD: SOT[subtitled] Soldier, serve the way I did!

VITALY: Some sense of humour you got there!

 

INT. KASKAD BUNKER – CONTINUOUS

 

An older SOLDIER fits VITALY for a Beret.

 

VO: Vitaly belongs to a military training club for local youth, called Kaskad.

 

CADET: SOT [subtitled] 00:06:40 Did you just pin it? You had so much time to sew it!

 

INT. KASKAD BUNKER – EQUIPMENT CAGE – MOMENTS LATER

 

An older COMMANDER hands a RIOT SHIELD, BAZOOKA, MACHINE GUN and GRENADES to VITALY who stacks them outside the cage.

 

 

VO: For the last few years, Kaskad’s boys have been the honor guard at V-Day services at the town’s war memorial.

 

INSTRUCTOR: SOT [subtitled] What is Over there!

 

VO: This will be Vitaly’s first…

 

EXT. KASKAD BUNKER – MOMENTS LATER

 

CADETS load the HUGE CACHE OF WEAPONS into the boot of a tiny HATCHBACK in silly juxtaposition.

 

VITALY: [THOUGHT TRACK] For me it means keeping the memory so others will remember the heroic deeds of great people. I think people should take them as role models. So our country would be at peace.

 

 

 

EXT. ZHUKOVSKI WAR MEMORIAL – DAY – LATER

 

Rain pours down on a small park. The war memorial is tiny compared with Moscow’s. A decent crowd sings along with the NATIONAL ANTHEM.

 

A POLITICIAN begins his address.

 

 

 

VARIOUS SHOTS: Of KASKAD boys marching – laying a WREATH.

 

WOMEN in formal Military dress uniforms sing.

 

 

 

 

SOT: *Russian National Anthem*

 

VO: Zhukovski’s service is a touch smaller than Moscow’s but the two share similar beats…

 

VO: All glorify The Great Patriotic War – Russia’s name for World War 2.

VO: Victory Day parades only   became an annual event after the fall of the Soviet union.
VO: They’re used by Putin to promote NATIONAL PRIDE

*ALT*
VO: Now, they promote fear and awe in equal measure.

 

EXT. MEMORIAL PARK – DAY – LATER.

 

VITALY and other young, Kaskad SOLDIERS man a stall near the memorial. They stand behind a table covered with MACHINE GUNS, GRENADES, ROCKET LAUNCHERS etc.

 

 

 

An ADULT tries to pickup one of the grenades. Young Vitaly scolds him!

 

 

 

Various CIVILIAN PARENTS hand weapons to their YOUNG CHILDREN.

 

A 4-year-old is photographed with a BAZOOKA.

 

His mother gleefully picksup an aims a RIFLE into a crowd.

 

VITALY: SOT [subtitled] This is an RPG-26 - a hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher. This is AK74M - a Kalashnikov assault rifle upgraded in 1974. This is an SVD - a Dragunov sniper rifle.

VO: After the service, Vitaly and his Kaskad comrades take charge of a very popular stall. They’re hoping to attract young recruits to their club.

 

VITALY: SOT [subtitled] You’re  allowed to touch.

 

VITALY: IV [subtitled] // We had a weapons exhibition with weapons on display. Kid’s, if they’re small, they might get scared and leave, and some couldn’t hold it right but that’s okay. And holding a machine gun, a rifle or some other weapon… is a thing to everyone’s liking.

 

VO: Kaskad is not the only organisation here to impress.

 

EXT. MEMORIAL PARK – NEARBY

 

10, TEENAGE GIRLS, members of Russia’s YOUTH ARMY, perform a rifle disassembly drill.

 

VO: These girls are members of Russia’s Youth Army – a state supported cadet program run in schools.

 

(Money to the youth army comes through other organisations that from the MOD… best to say supported rather than sponsored.)

 

EXT. MEMORIAL PARK – NEARBY

 

More TEENAGERS, this time in civilian clothes, put on PARACHUTES for ONLOOKERS.

 

VO: And these kids are members of a military parachuting club…

 

RESUME - EXT. MEMORIAL PARK – DAY.

 

Back with VITALY and KASKAD, two, special, visitors emerge from the crowd…

 

DIMITRY & VALERIA – Vitaly’s parents.

 

 

 


VO: At Zhukovsky’s V-Day, the military is almost entirely represented by children.

VITALY DAD: SOT [subtitled] Hello, warrior! VITALY: Hello!
 
VO: So why did Vitaly’s mum and Dad want their son involved.

VITALY: Stand like this. 00:11:40:09 Then like this.

VITALY DAD: IV [subtitled]

It’s the state of our current society. Right now 90 per cent of our young people want to become bloggers and do God knows what. Plus, the influence of the street, drugs, homelessness, alcohol, tobacco. Since we don't want our kid to be left to his own devices we’ve made that decision.

 

EXT. MOSCOW – NIGHT – LATER

 

V-Day celebrations continue. We watch a telecast where thousands of L.E.D carrying DRONES clump in the sky, forming images of a DOVE before transforming into a GLOBE.

 

 

 

 

 

HARD CUT TO:


VO: Many Russians feel the same as Vitaly’s dad, especially in poorer and regional areas.

VO: Traditional family values, and respect for the military are important in these communities…

VO: So when the country holds parliamentary elections in September, many are likely to vote for Putin and the United Russia Party.

 

INT. VITALY’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

 

VITALY shows us a kindergarten photo of himself dressed as a soldier.

 

VITALY: UPSOT: [subtitled] This [photo] has been taken in my kindergarten.

The glass broke and now it’s like this.


INT. VITALY’S BEDROOM – LATER

 

VITALY shadowed by his MUM gives us a tour of his room.

 

 

Vitaly shows us a SOVIET FLAG hanging on his wall.

 

 

 

The tour continues as Vitaly shows off all his WAR BOOKS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vitaly’s CAT enters the room. Vitaly plays with him. 

 

 

VITALY: SOT [subtitled] We used to carry this flag with Mum on Victory Day.

MUM: IV [subtitled] When he was small this wasn’t the only thing we tried. We also took him to races he went to a hockey game. But the one that had really captured him was this one for some reason. I’m positive. Our kid has a hobby and it’s a good hobby.

VITALY: SOT: I can show you some books, there’s a lot her. 

VO: With Soviet, military education no longer taught in schools, Vitaly’s parents feel military clubs are good for Russia.

ANASTASIA: SOT: [subtitled] History of weapons?

VITALY: Yes, there’s everything. Even six-barrel guns. No Small Kids in a War is also a good one. Mum and I have read it together.

DAD: IV [subtitled] Everybody used to study military training at school -- we’d disassemble guns and rifles, throw grenades. At the same time crime level in the USSR was so low. And compare it to what’s happening now.

INT/EXT. VITALY’S APARMENT – LATER

 

VITALY grabs his BIKE. He heads downstairs and rides away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SMASH CUT TO:

 

DAD: IV [subtitled] If all boys start dressing up and doing makeup like girls -- what will remain of the society?

MUM: IV [subtitled] I feel the same. Of course it is necessary for men to remain men. Men should be brought up like men from childhood, And military organisations are quite successful at it.

VO: But will a ten-year-old be tough enough for military training?

*ALT*
VO: So how does the military train a 10-year-old?

KASKAD TRAINING

 

INT. KASKAD BUNKER – DAY

 

An 8MM FILM EFFECT.

A small platoon of KIDS aged 10 to 17 perform military drills. Instructions are yelled by a weathered 50-something soldier, GENNADY.

 

This could be a scene from the Russian version of Full Metal Jacket.

 

GENNADY: SOT: [subtitled] This is exactly what I need. Lead him! Pull him down and finish it! Push, push, push! No! My granny raises her hands better at 80!

 


INT. KASKAD BUNKER – SAME

 

The 8MM FILM EFFECT cuts off.

 

The CADETS perform various, severe HAND TO HAND COMBAT drills.

VITALY: IV [subtitled] It’s a paramilitary training centre, Kaskad. You can go there for free. There are two hour sessions Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

GENNADY: SOT [subtitled] *kicks a kid in the groin * And then get out of it!

 

INT. KASKAD BUNKER – LATER

 

GENNADY stops the class and shows the kids how to more effectively break a person’s arm.

 

VITALY: IV: [subtitled] First of all, today… we came here and practised fighting techniques. Now we have machine gun practice, avoiding being shot.

 

INT. KASKAD BUNKER – LATER

VITALY and the CLASS practise disassembling and assembling RIFLES and MACHINE GUNS.

 

 

 

INT. KASKAD BUNKER – LATER

 

A GREATEST HITS of brutal training moments.

 

(1)         A CADET kicks another in the groin.

 

 

(2)         GENNADY throws a boy to the ground and pretends to punch him.

 

 

(3)         Vitaly tries to reinsert a ramrod into a rifle but his hands are too small.

 

GENNADY prowls around the room, steel eyes on his students.

 

 

VO: Kaskad training isn’t a game. The activities are brutal…

GENNADY: SOT [subtitled] Higher, aim for the groin.

SOT: *Whack!* A kid surpress a wince as he’s kicked, hard, in the balls.

VO: Girls aren’t allowed… and despite being for under 18’s, the activities aren’t child friendly.

GENNADY: SOT: [subtitled]  01:32:52:05 - You don’t have the strength, do you?

VO: Run from a basement, entirely on donations, Kaskad’s commanding officer is former special forces soldier Gennady Korotaev

SOT: GENNADY: Yells at students.

 

GENNADY: IV [subtitled] 00:17:56: // Well it was founded quite a while ago, the war in Afghanistan was still going on, and it became clear that men were going there undertrained. As a result this centre was born.

 

INT. GENNADY’S OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

 

GENNADY takes us into his office -  a dirty, cramped room in the bunker. Hundreds of photos of soldiers are framed on the walls. Gennady points to friends that have died on the battle field.

 

 

 

 

GENNADY: SOT: [subtitled] Well here are the guys that served in Vityaz.

VO: When they turn 18, all Russians boys undertake a full year of military service and can find themselves on the frontline.

GENNADY: SOT [subtitled] This is Valery Zamaraev, he was killed in Beslan. He became  a Hero of Russia posthoumously.


VO: Gennady saw many young soldiers never return.

VO: That’s why he says Kaskad was formed, to train boys to survive.

GENNADY: IV [subtitled] The full course takes 6 years.: military tactics, special training, military topography, drills, firearms and so on and so forth, practically everything a good soldier needs.

INT. KASKAD TRAINING – DAY

The CLASS disassembles and reassembles rifles.

GENNADY: IV: I mean, this place is not a sports club and not a dress-making course. Here it is different. We train real men. We have a motto here at Kaskad. More sweat spilled here, less blood spilled over there.

INT. GENNADY’S OFFICE – LATER

 

GENNADY sits at an OLD COMPUTER. The keyboard is caked with dirt. Boxes of Russian PAINKILLERS and other MEDICATIONS are piled up next to the monitor – evidence of the punishment Gennady’s mind and body have endured in service of the fatherland.

 

Gennady brings up PHOTOS OF CADETS on the computer.

 

 

 

VO: But these boys aren’t just interested in preparing for war, they’re also looking for a STEP UP.

 

GENNADY: SOT: [subtitled]  They see themselves in the military for various reasons. Some don’t see themselves in civil life,

The military authorities allow them to study. This is what we really care about, the kids getting a higher education.

 

INT. KASKAD BUNKER – TRAINING ROOM – LATER.

 

The CADETS continue their brutal training. Boys pretending to be men.

 

 

They do all sorts of strength and calisthenics training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OFF VARIOUS SHOTS of the cadets...

GENNADY: SOT [subtitled] Circles now!

VO: Right now, recruits are preparing for one of the most brutal parts of the Kaskad program - summer camp…

VO: Two weeks in the Russian wilderness to test the limits of Kaskad recruits.

GENNADY: IV [subtitled] Indeed, it’s tough. They don’t have free time there. The rest is training, training, and once again training. That includes both night and day exercises and so forth.

There are no Mum and Dad there. Who will launder my socks?

VO: Despite being 10, Vitaly has put his hand up to go to camp.

GENNADY: IV [subtitled] 00:27:45: When we see him 24/7 that’s when it all becomes clear you can already see who’s a coward, who’s a scoundrel. Alternatively, a run-of-the-mill guy can show himself a real fighter there. And that’s what we need.

PUTIN’S ARMY

 

FILE FOOTAGE

 

Promotional videos and social media posts of other Russian, Youth Military Clubs.

 

We see them in ceremonial roles, marching in honor guards in other V-Day ceremonies.

 

VO: Right now, there are thousands of community military clubs like Kaskad, spread throughout Russia.

 

VO: Officially, the majority have no political or party affiliation as is the case with Kaskad.

 

VO: In the last decade, military clubs have seen increasing enrolments… a trend which Maria Gavrilova has been studying.

 

EXT. PARK – DAY

 

On a bright, summer day we find and speak with sociologist MARIA GAVRILOVA

 

MARIA: IV [subtitled] 00:19:35:23 // The Army is one of the few institutions in our society that enjoys quite a lot of trust in the population. Plus in the regions, the army is quite a significant social catalyst. People think that the army pays well, you have a good job and a high social status.

 

VO: But now, their aspirations are being weaponized by Vladimir Putin.

 

FILE FOOTAGE: [to source]

 

BOLOTANYA SQUARE and other PROTESTS from 2011-2013.

 

Thousands march in the streets calling for free and fair elections and the removal of Vladimir Putin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FILE FOOTAGE: [to source]

 

The public spectacle of NAVALNY’S trial and removal to prison after his guilty verdict.

 

 

FILE FOOTAGE: [to source]

 

We focus on the FACES of PROTESTORS in the crowds.

 

PROTESTORS: SOT: Down with Putin! [to source]

VO: Over the last decade, anti-Putin movements have been gaining steam.

 

SOT: PUTIN; These people are criminals and cowards and terrorists etc [to source]

 

VO: From 2011 to 2013 thousands took to the streets, calling for an end to unfair elections and Putin’s endless terms.

 

VO: Alexey Navalny, became Putin’s most public opponent that did not disappear.

 

VO: Many faces in the crowds were young… for Putin it presented a big problem.

MARIA: IV [subtitled] 00:53:12:22 // Why do we have a generation that is not ours, no patriotic? What can be done. There are few options. Democracy? Not an option. So they tried to deal with this problem somehow.

 

 

FILE FOOTAGE: [to source]

 


VO: Putin increased military spending, restoring a source of pride and power for millions

VO: He then created The Youth Army…

 

VO: A voluntary, Military cadet program, supported by the Ministry of Defence.

VO: This promotional video shows them centre stage at Victory Day

PUTIN SOT: [to source] Decrees the creation of the army

 

 

RESUME – EXT. ZHUKOVSKI WAR MEMORIAL – DAY.

 

We’re back with the PLATOON OF GIRLS disassembling RIFLES. Their 60-something instructor speaks to us.

 

 

 

VO: The girls we met at  V-Day are Youth Army.

 

YOUTH ARMY GIRL: VOX [subtitled] 00 I came because my grandpa held one of the highest military ranks so I sort of wanted to follow in his wake. I got interested in this and now I’m ecstatic about this stuff.

 

FILE FOOTAGE: YOUTH ARMY


VO: The youth army also promotes patriotic education which blends World War 2 history with pro-Putin propaganda

 (CUT DOWN HER GRAB SO YOU DON;’T HAVE TO USE SO MUCH FILE FOOTAGE TO COVER – THE LESS FILE THE BETTER)

 WW2 is something that embraces the cult of victory – and this also attracts people.

 

RESUME - FILE FOOTAGE [to source]

 

More images of the Youth Army assembling on mass. Scarily reminiscent of the Hitler Youth.

 

VO: Today over half a million Russian children belong to the Youth Army.

VO: Critics fear it’s becoming Russia’s version of the Hitler Youth…

Alt: Critics fear it resembles Russia’s version of the Hitler Youth…

VO: A movement to groom future soldiers loyal to the party.

ALT: A movement to secure future loyalty to the party.

 

RESUME – EXT. PARK – DAY.

 

Our interview with Maria continues.

 

MARIA: IV [subtitled] 00:25:42:22 The kids join because the schools get a directive to create a cell and attract a certain number of children of a certain age.

GVs – show YOUNG PEOPLE on the streets of Russia. Images from Moscow, followed regional areas reinforce the large gap between rich and poor.

 

MARIA: IV [subtitled] 00:40:12:14 Of course,  there is a big difference. In the capital, the army's standing and the desire to join are the lowest. It’s to do with the fact that in the capitals young people have a much wider range of possibilities. While for those in the regions in a depressed area where there might be no work at all, it’s the army or nothing.

GOING TO WAR

 

INT. VITALY’S HOUSE – DAY

 

From their cramped APARTMENT, VITALY and his MUM and DAD pack last minute items for their kids trip to KASKAD CAMP.

 

 

Vitaly throws on a large BACKPACK and heads downstairs.

 

VITALY: SOT: [subtitled] Mother, which sneakers should I put on?

MOTHER: Black ones, here.

VITALY: Old ones or new ones?

Father: Old ones!

 

VO: Back in Zhukovsky Vitaly is about to leave for the Kaskad camp.

 

 

EXT. VITALY’S HOUSE

 

VITALY waits patiently for his mother to join them. His DAD takes manly drags on a cigrarette.

 

MUM joins them and they set off to KASKAD

 

FATHER: SOT [subtitled] 00:14:01:11 FATHER: Forgot anything?

VITALY: No. Don’t forget to put an inscription “Smoking is harmful for your health”. Or else he’s promoting it now.

 

 

 

EXT. ZHUKOVSKI STREETS – CONTINUOUS.

 

The FAMILY takes the five-block walk to the KASKAD CENTRE.

 

DAD smokes along the way.

 

 

MOTHER: IV [subtitled] 01:26:21:06 He’s very ready. He was counting days and really wanted to go. But now I saw that the moment of leaving home might be difficult. I’m a mother after all. How can I not worry for my child?

 

 

 

EXT. KASKAD PARK – CONTINUOUS

 

It’s all business as GENNADY yells at RECRUITS. They retrieve special EQUIPMENT and UNIFORMS and start packing the BUS which will transport them to camp.

The bus is ready to roll out.

 

Vitaly salutes his Dad and hugs his Mum. 

 

VO: Despite the huge popularity of Putin’s Youth Army, Gennady insists Kaskad has no political affiliations.

 

GENNDAY: IV [subtitled] 00:34:50 I think that kids should be as far away from politics as possible. // We’ve warned our kids to stay away. When you come of age, you can make your decisions. Right now don’t go near them and I mean both sides. Do your own stuff.

 

INT. BUS – DAY – LATER

 

The CADETS sit attentively on their bus. An INSTRUCTOR yells at them.

 

 

We focus on VITALY.

 

 

 

 

 

INSTUCTOR: SOT [subtitled] Get on the bus in five seconds.

Guys: Yes, sir!

 

VO: But the reach of the President may be too great.

 

VITALY: IV: [subtitled] 01:28:39 Putin is a good president. He’s been in his position for a long time. I think he’s a good president and we’d better keep him.

VO: And it seems Vitaly and Putin have the same enemy.  

  

VITALY: SOT: 01:28:39  Navalny is a person who came from NATO and wants the country to collapse.. And he subjects young people to some stuff that isn’t good.


VO: As the boys head to camp, they are about to find out how the Russian military can be used to break enemies of the regime.

*ALT*
VO: As the boys head to camp they’re about to find out how brutal the Putin’s military can be.

*ALT

VO: As the boys head to camp they’re about to find out how brutal the Russian military can be.

THE CAMP – PART I


EXT. KASKAD CAMP – DAY

We’re with VITALY as he runs across a field, EXPLOSIONS and the sound of pellet BULLETS ring around him.

TEXT ON SCREEN: KASKAD CAMP

 

SOT: *A grenade explodes*

SOT: *Screaming in Russian


EXT. KASKAD CAMP – DAY

(a) The spires of Russian Orthodox Church loom over a small town ringed by open fields and Army Barracks.

(b) The boys aim pistols at targets. An instructor correscts Vitaly’s stance.

 

(c) Cadets, doing physical training… chin ups, running, etc.

(d) A boy collapses, an instructor pours water over the child’s head to cool him down.

 

 

(e) Vitaly pull the pin on a grenade and throws it. He dives into the brush to find cover. The grenade doesn’t explode.

 

 

 

 


SOT: A bear roars!

VO: In the shadow of an Orthodox monastery, Kaskad camp is a proving ground for young cadets…

INSTRUCUTOR: SOT [subtitled] *Hits Vitaly in the back* Bang! Aggressive Position!


 

VO: The two-week course is based on Russian, special forces training, designed to push soldiers to breaking point.

INSTRUCTOR: SOT [subtitled] Cool down!

VO: For first-time campers like 10-year-old Vitaly, it’s a trial by fire.

VITALY: SOT [subtitled]  Grenade!!!!

GENNADY IV – [subtitled] They are ready to “fight day and night”. Here we find out Who’s brave, who’s courageous, and who’s a coward.

INSTRUCTOR: It’s defective!
VITALY: What?!?!?


MONTAGE: DAY IN THE (KASKAD) LIFE

 

(a) The boys wake to a yelling DRILL SERGEANT and then wash themselves in a trough.  

 

(b) The CADETS assemble PISTOLS.

(c) A documentary plays, explaining how Napoleon unsuccessfully attempted to invade Russia.

(d) RECRUITS ride horses in a rough, indoor stable.

(5) A huge number of cadets scoff food and pray after wards.



 

SOT: 10 minutes for washing up!

VO: Day’s begin at dawn… and involve weapons training…

 

INSTRUCTOR: SOT: [subtitled]Too slow!

FILM: SOT [subtitled] At the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon's troops conquered half of Europe.

VO: Military History…

VO: Animal handling…

SOT: *lunch bell rings*

VO: Meals…

VO: Prayer…

 

SOT: BOYS PRAY - 00:03:18:11 - ...forever and ever, Amen. God, have mercy on us. God, have mercy on us.

VO: And group training exercises in the field ...

 

 

EXT. COUNTER STRIKE – DAY

 

DRONE shots reveal a sweeping plain and forest. The CADETS dive, run, and fire AIR RIFLES fire against an opposing unit.

 

 

SOT: *Shooting* Running. Diving. [fake] Dying.

 

CADET – SOT [subtitled] 00:30:51:18 This game is like a training. //. 00:30:40:18 Here everything depends on the coherence of the team, 

GENNADY: IV [subtitled] Guys need to understand what they do and what for. The usefulness is obvious. They go back completely different people.  


EXT. MILITARY TACTICS TRAINING.

A new day. A new drill. They CADETS sit in a circle in a field watching GENNADY explaining military formations while pointing at MAGNETS on a WHITE BOARD.

 

 

GENNADY: SOT [subtitled] Good morning gentlemen!
BOYS: Good morning sir!
GENNADY: Today it’s military tactics.

VO: Today, cadets are learning how to rescue hostages from an enemy camp.

GENNADY: SOT: [subtitled] The platoon comes in and works in formation in a line.

VO: First comes theory…

GENNADY: SOT [subtitled] Write this down. A good pencil is better than a bad memory!


EXT. TRAINING – DAY

 

GENNADY screams at the cadets as they run attack formations on a basketball court.

A RUSSIAN flag proudly waves and watches over them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another CADET yells at Vitaly.


VO: Then practise…


GENNADY: SOT: [subtitled] You forward! Go! Go!

BOY: SOT: Holding!
GENNADY: Forward!

 

GENNADY YELLS

VO: During the drill, Vitaly begins to struggle.   

 

GENNADY – SOT [subtitled] Vitaly! No! Holy Moly Boy! What are you doing!!

VO: He makes mistakes… and his mind seems elsewhere…

VITALY: IV [subtitled] I miss my cat and mum. I also had pain in my leg, my ankle. It’s painful to fall.

VO: Soon, the unit will be tested by doing this drill in a simulated environment.

VO: Right now though, Vitlay’s done little to gain the trust of his comrades.


BOY: SOT: [subtitled] Hurry up Tik Tak you suck.

GENNADY: IV [subtitled] He’s Spoiled, overestimating himself, not keen for work. He’s still very young.

 

EXT. BARRACKS – NIGHT – LATER

 

VITALY sits broken, by himself. He phones his MUM.



GENNADY: SOT: [subtitled] Hand out the phones starting with the young!

VO: During his daily phone time, Vitaly has to make a tough call.

VITALY: SOT [subtitled] Hi.
MUM: Hello, hi, pumpkin! How’s life in the army?
VITALY: OK.
MUM: How do you feel?

VITALY: Leg’s hurting.
MUM: Can you stay until the end of the camp?
VITALY: What do you mean the end?
MUM: One more week.


MUM: Do you want go home?
VITALY: I don’t know.

VO: Many cadets are broken by military training.

VO: And some claim that Putin is attempting to crush his opponents by sending them to the army.
 

BREAKING “BAD” RUSSIANS

TEXT ONSCREEN: LOCATION UNKNOWN

 

 

 

INT. RUSLAN’S APARTMENT – DAY

 

In a blackened apartment… 25 year-old Ruslan chats with us over ZOOM.

 

TEXT on SCREEN - UNKNOWN…

 

RUSLAN: IV [subtitled] 00:12:34:00 For safety reasons I can't tell you where exactly I am. It's a safe place. // We have been labeled as extremists.

VO: Ruslan is a key member of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, a banned organisation run by Putin’s nemesis, Alexie Navalny.

 

 

FILE FOOTAGE: NAVALNY & RUSLAN


VO: After campaigning for Navalny and anti-Putin candidates, Ruslan claims he was kidnapped and forced into the military, in 2019.

00:00:18:04  RUSLAN I have a very interesting story // In 2019 my bank accounts were blocked// and then some police officers stormed my apartment // I was handcuffed and sent to the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.


RESUME: RUSLAN’S APARTMENT – DAY

 

RUSLAN paces around the apartment and continues his IV.


VO: Ruslan says he and three others were transported to a base in the arctic, only accessible by helicopter.


VO: Cut off from the world, Rulsan had previously been exempt from Military service on medical grounds…

 

00:05:50:00  RUSLAN: We lived in a bunker. There were 4 people. There’s no electricity, no water, so you have to melt snow. Once a month a helicopter drops you some food, some basics like potatoes and floor and you have to live on that for a month. If the weather is bad you have to wait for 2 months. There are polar bears, but they are starving as well, so you even feed them. You get used to polar bears.

FILE FOOTAGE: Navalny calls for Ruslan’s release

 

FILE FOOTAGE: Navalny poisoning is reported on the news

 

SOT: NAVALNY: Release Ruslan

 

VO: Navalny immediately called for Ruslan’s release, and demanded the military not be used to intimidate opponents.


VO: But according to Ruslan his case was the tip of the iceberg


00:01:18:08 RUSLAN: They’ve opened the Pandora box -  // now they’re using the army as a threat against the youth, against young political activists. And it’s not just they are sending [activists] to the army, //  they send you to an off-limits military base far away from your home, so you have no connection there. Of course it’s an instrument of pressure and as we can see they’ve started using it quite often.

 


VO: During Ruslan’s imprisonment, the fight between Putin and his opponents worsened.

VO: Navalny was famously poisoned and evacuated to Germany.

VO:
After a year at the base, Ruslan gained his freedom in 2020, but returned to a very different Russia.

RUSLAN: IV [subtitled] After the attempt on Aleksei’s life, the reality has changed. Now you cannot feel safe wherever you are. They see there’s a new generation not under their control. The generation that fail to accept not just Putin, but this outdate regime that speaks a foreign language.


FILE FOOTAGE: 2021 Protests



VO: After surviving assassination, Navalny returned to Russia. He was jailed and members of the Anti-Corruption Foundation were banned from running in September’s election.

[NOTE:
https://www.rbc.ru/politics/09/06/2021/608670e09a7947709c4de06c ]



VO: Undeterred, the group hopes to upset the balance of power in Russia using a program called “Smart voting.”


0:19:00:00 RUSLAN: It’s impossible to ban our “smart voting”. We cannot run for the elections as candidates, but we can choose (and support) other candidates. We can choose the most popular candidates who are not members of the ruling United Russia. It doesn’t matter who they are. 00:20:00:00

00:23:53:10 RUSLAN: // Putin relies on the United Russia and the United Russia accepts all his legislation. Our task is to get into the parliament members of other parties. Everyone says that the opposition is not united, so we’ll try to do that.

AD BREAK

THE CAMP – PART II

 

EXT. KASKAD TRAINING – DAY

 

We return to the camp as the CADETS perform more physical operations.

 

We focus on VITALY.

 

 


SOT: [subtitled] *Cadets getting yelled at again*


VO: Back at Kaskad camp, the recruits are in the thick of week 2.

VO: Despite homesickness and a hurt ankle, Vitaly’s soldiered on.


VITALY: [subtitled] [THOUGHT TRACK]
We had a commander who quit with a sore leg. My leg’s sore too but I’m not quitting.

 

MONTAGE: VITALY TRAINING

 

A classic, Rocky IV vibe montage with Vitaly…

(1)         Running

(2)         Doing chin-ups on the horizontal bars

(3)        Assembling guns under a tree while other cadets sleep on the ground around him.


VO: Quite the opposite…
Vitaly’s doubled down on his training.


VO: While others rest… he works.

VO: And to the relief of his comrades, Vitaly is now working with the team.   

GENNADY: IV: [subtitled]

It’s been a 180 degree turn. He helps his team and we’re seeing different sides to him. It’s good.

 

EXT. KASKAD – HOSTAGE RAID – DAY

 

The CADETS in full special forces camo and ski masks, storm a pretend TERRORIST CAMP on the barracks.

 

They rescue soldiers, and apprehend terrorists.

[NOTE: it was their camp, maybe better to say something like: During this exercise Vitaly and his unit played a hostage situation. ]

 

VO: They successfully rescue hostages [prisoners - to avoid repetition] and subdue terrorists all played by instructors.

 


VO: Today, teamwork is imperative…


VO: Vitaly’s unit is about to simulate the hostage rescue mission they’ve been training for.

SOT: GENNADY:

VO: Their goal? Infiltrate a pretend camp, subdue terrorists and rescue hostages.

SOT: GENNDAY:

VO: Armed with air rifles… the team descends…

FIRE FIGHT:

VO: Though he struggled in practise, Vitaly and his unit succeed.

BOY: SOT: [subtitled] Hands up! Head against the wall.

VITALY: IV: [subtitled]  I didn’t get kidnapped it was great. This is such an interesting exercise.

 

VO: But the mission isn’t over.

 

EXT. TIRE FORT – DAY

 

A HUGE team death match with VITALY trying to survive and protect a fort made from Tires.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VITALY survives. Gennady is proud.

 

COMMANDER: SOT: [subtitled] Protect the objective! Guns up. Machine Guns fire!

VO: The unit is immediately thrown into a live-fire war game called Strike-Ball.

VO: Using fully-automatic pellet guns… and smoke grenades… they must defend their position and not get shot.



SOTS: [subtitled] Fire. Greanade! Get down. Move positions. Advance. Advance!


VO: The game ends… and Vitaly is one of the last one men standing.
 
VITALY: IV: [subtitled] That was really tough but I didn’t get shot. I just have one question. How did I throw four grenades and no one died? Hey you! *grabs a friend*. How did I grenade you and you didn’t die?

VO: Vitaly and his unit have successfully completed the exercise.

VO: For Gennady, the growth in his recruits is proof, that Kaskad helps boys become men…

 

GENNADY: IV [subtitled]– he’s good he’s learn to work and that’s good. He still has a lot of growing to do, but he’s done what he had to here. I’m happy no one died. And all is well.

VO: But as Vitaly and his unit celebrate their victories, the battle for Russia’s youth is far from won.

 

 

WRAP UP MONTAGE:

 

 

 

 

VITALY waits to be picked up from the front of Kaskad.

 

He sees his Dad, squeals, runs and jumps into his arms. He’s still just a kid.

 

RUSLAN: IV [subtitled] There are those who really like military, But believe me, the main thing that the Kremlin is stealing now, it is stealing the future, first of all. And the youth feels it more deeply.  That’s why the authorities want to have them somehow under control.


MARIA:  it is very easy to say “God, this is all done under the government’s stick [whiplash]”, I people with other views  they are not enemies at all, and they just represent another part of society. instead of swearing and blaming each other for some reasons, then perhaps there will be some mutually acceptable option for everyone and for the country as a whole.

VO: As the boys return from Kaskad camp, both sides anxiously await the results of September’s election… Each, crying out for the loyalty of the young.

VO: And while Vitaly’s generation will one day shape Russia’s future, right now, they are just kids.

VITALY: SOT: [subtitled] Dad!!! DAD: Son!
VITALY: I’ve lost weight!
DAD: Not with that backpack on!

GENNADY: IV [subtitled] We executed the curriculum. Maybe we over did it. But, everyone is alive and well. That’s the important thing.  


NEXT TIME


Next week on Dateline

 

In the first episode of a special series on China's rising power - we explore ongoing tensions with Australia and the impact on ordinary people on both sides. 

 

VO: And Up next... The Feed

 

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