03/03/2023, 09.07
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Young 'spiders' on the attack in Russia

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Gangs of young people inspired by a Japanese manga are hunting each other in Russian cities. The phenomenon also affects Ukraine. War propaganda creates a deviant psychology in the youthful masses. The fear is that other groups of 'youth extremists' may arise. Patriarch Kirill suggests 'controlling and limiting the Internet'.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - There is considerable concern in Russia about the onslaught of teenage mobs at shopping centres in almost every city in the country, where fierce and often violent competitions are organised.

On Telegram channels, this phenomenon has been dubbed the 'youth subculture' of the fanatics of the manga 'Hunter x Hunter' by the award-winning Japanese cartoonist Yoshihiro Togashi, renamed 'Čvk Rëdan' in Russia.

Čvk comes from military jargon ('Častnaja voennaja kompanija', private military company), winking at the increasingly active and popular Wagner Company of mercenaries; Rëdan, on the other hand, means 'wedge-shaped fortification', the arrangement for resisting mass assaults.

Even the Kremlin was forced to take a stance, and spokesman Peskov called on everyone, parents and police forces alike, to 'stop as soon as possible the actions of boys who allow themselves to be seduced by the pseudo-war culture, which has nothing valiant or dignified about it'.

The Ministry of the Interior suggested that 'all this is coming from Ukraine', and indeed even the Ukrainian press speaks of clashes between very young people dressed in spider symbols.

The first mass clash of the 'new youth movement' was reported on 19 February in the large Aviapark centre in Moscow, with videos of the clashes going viral on the internet, first described as the actions of the Čvk Rëdan.

In the following days, similar events multiplied in St. Petersburg, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod and many other cities. The boys form gangs referred to in the manga as 'Genei Rëdan', whose members are called 'the spiders'.

The gangs lash out at opponents who usually control the large common areas, such as football team fans, 'gopniki' or street thugs and the various formations of Caucasian youths, always ready for a fight.

The youngsters gather via the net, especially on Telegram channels, where, for example, the 'Rëdan-Stavropol' section has obtained more than 600 subscriptions in two days. The messages warn that 'we have shot the arrow', i.e. set a place and date to 'clarify the situation' with a competing group.

In some cases messgaes are recalled because of the presence of Omon (anti-guerrilla) policemen at the pre-arranged location. This week alone, the police arrested hundreds of youths in Tula, Kursk, Novosibirsk, Rostov, Yaroslavl, Kazan and several other centres.

Enemy gangs of 'spiders' are already organising themselves, especially Caucasians, who hunt for the 'Rëdan'; in St. Petersburg, a 17-year-old, Islam Abdulaev, who had beaten up a 15-year-old boy dressed as a spider in front of his school, has already been arrested.

In Čeljabinsk in the Urals, the police arrested 15 spider-clad teenagers as a 'preventive measure', and similar actions were repeated in Taganrog, where the 'Anti ČvkRëdan' group was formed, and even in Ulan-Ude in Buryatia.

In Ukraine, there have been similar cases in Kiev, Žitomir, Ivano-Frankivsk, L'vov, Khar'kov, Vinnitsa, Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa, the main cities, showing that this is mostly a metropolitan phenomenon. In part, this is one of the many ways of attracting the youngest into the organised crime of street gangs, which is widespread in various countries around the world, but many observers point out that war propaganda, which in Russia is now systematic even in schools, is creating a deviant and violent psychology in the youth masses.

An authoritative member of the Council for Civil Society at the Presidency of Russia, Kirill Kabanov, believes that 'adolescents must be attracted and engaged from their earliest years in culturally valid and interesting projects, otherwise they create uncontrollable passions for themselves and end up falling prey to criminal circles'.

He explains that 'what is most shocking about the Rëdan is the total lack of sense, one does not understand where they come from and what they want, they have no idea to defend, other than winning the fight'.

The fear is that other groups of 'youth extremism' may be born, which will not be limited to manga fanatics, but will spread a way of life and action throughout the country, often imitating the 'adult wars'. From the Orthodox Church, only Patriarch Kirill's appeals to "control and limit the Internet" are repeated, without being able to point out any valid alternatives for the education of young people.

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