Children in Russia’s Republic of Dagestan have found a new form of entertainment: making threatening videos and sending them to adults. Armed with toy weapons, the kids imitate the behavior of militants while demanding money, good grades at school.
Several of the videos have been circulating on the web, but police say they are meant to be a joke and pose no real danger. However, many are wondering why young children – who are known to copy the actions of adults – are taking part in such violent role play.
In one of the videos, a boy who appears to be around 12 years old demands good grades in school. It is apparently addressed to his teacher, as the boy states that he should have only “A” grades in both the school register and his student record within five days of the video’s receipt.
“If you don’t do that, I’ll first kill Khalimat and Nurmagomed and then come at you. Insha'Allah (If God is willing),” the child says without a smile on his face. The boy, posing with a toy pistol, speaks in the Avar language, which is common for one of the largest ethnic groups living in the Republic of Dagestan.
Another child of about the same age is armed with a plastic machine gun and demands money. The boy recalls that “when he was a kid,” he was beaten up by someone called Mohammed. He then demands that Mohammed give him two million rubles (US$60,000) and his motorcycle.
The young “racketeer” says that if his request is not fulfilled, Mohammed’s “son and a couple of other people” will be killed. The boy gives the man five days to make payment.
According to police, no one has yet complained about the videos.
“We know that such records appeared on the internet. It’s so painful, such a shame that children take part in them. But it’s a mistake of adults who set an example,” Indira Aganyeva, a police officer in the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala, told Life News.
Law enforcement officers are currently searching for the authors of the clips, according to Komsomolskaya newspaper.
“Children are just like litmus paper. They absorb all the bad and good things happening in society,” Fatima Ubaidatova, a representative of Dagestan’s Interior Ministry press service, told the paper.
She added that the boys are most likely under the age of 14. “So their parents will be punished. Most probably with a fine.”
Sending videos on USB flash drives is a common practice among illegal armed groups in Dagestan. Gunmen typically send footage to businessmen and authorities, threatening to kill them and their relatives unless they give money to jihad.