Kremlin Tells Kids About Russia’s Political Opposition

"What is the opposition and why do we need it?" Source: kids.kremlin.ruThere’s a new addition this week to the Kremlin’s official website – a section explaining the importance of Russia’s political opposition. The new feature, dubbed “What do we need the opposition for?” is posted on a part of the website that is dedicated to children –

“Do you like when people disagree with you? When they argue, object, or contradict you?” reads the website’s opening page. “Of course you don’t like it. Those who disagree with anyone and have a different, opposing opinion are called ‘the opposition.'”

In a colorful interactive slideshow, the website explains such concepts as “the strange word ‘opposition'” and “what if it’s repugnant to listen to them?”

A section titled “At first glance” reads: “It might appear that those who disagree with the state government are of perfectly no use. They just get in the way and prevent work from getting done. Can the government really not order them all to be silent?” The next section is titled “It turns out: it can’t.”

“The fundamental law of our state – the constitution – says: in the Russian Federation, everyone is guaranteed freedom of thought and speech and that no ideology can be established as state-mandated or required. This means that the government doesn’t have the right to force those with whom it disagrees to be silent,” says the site.

Moreover, it says, “the guarantor of the constitution is the president. That is to say, it is precisely he who guarantees and ensures the implementation of the constitution in our country.”

The site goes on to discuss how freedom of speech is preserved through media that is independent “even from the president himself” and that a democratic government is structured so that “even its opponents are useful.”

There is also a section dedicated to the fact that slander and libel are strictly punished according to federal Russian law.

“Of course, the state government most of all needs helpers who agree with it…But it turns out that it needs opponents as well,” the page stipulates.

In a country routinely accused of hosting fraudulent elections, critics will likely be angered at the website’s insistence that the president in Russia is chosen by the majority of voters: “Indeed, the majority of people voted for the president during the election. If it were the other way around – they would have chosen a different president. There would be a different government.”

A presentation of the new category is planned at the Kremlin on Tuesday. Children’s author Grigory Oster, who wrote the existing content from the Kremlin’s kids page, was also chosen to write about the opposition.

“We are trying to explain to children that in a normal democratic state the opposition not only does not hinder, but also helps the government,” Oster told

In the writer’s words, the page will show children that “in the history of humanity, there have been cases when the opinion of the minority turned out to be right.” “We are explaining that if somebody disagrees with you it doesn’t mean they’re wrong,” he said.

The website will steer away from more difficult concepts such as the difference between the “systemic” and “non-systemic” opposition or parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition parties and movements. “This is a site for children!” Oster explained. While the idea of making a section for the opposition came up long ago, the page itself took a long time to develop, he said.

The children’s version of the Kremlin’s website was launched six years ago and has made do without discussing the opposition for all that time. Currently, it includes several sections on the role of the president, what elections are for, and what democracy is. The latter explains in the form of a test that when grown people freely express their opinions and different people who get the majority of votes in fair elections become president – that’s democracy.

There are also some less-than-standard concepts. For example, “the president’s tolerance”: “For those who risk violating the rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation, it is not worth waiting for when the president’s cup of tolerance overflows. It will not end well for them,” explains a young citizen.

Compiled in part from material by