Prosecutors in Russia have launched an investigation into a circus performance that featured a monkey clothed in a Nazi uniform and two goats dressed in blankets embellished with swastikas. It is alleged that the incident may have broken laws surrounding the promotion of fascism.
The performance, watched by young children and their families, was commissioned by the Russian Orthodox Church in Udmurtia, a region in western Russia. Social media footage showed the animals being controlled by circus performers and trainers around the ring dressed in Soviet uniforms. The audience can be heard applauding and cheering throughout the show, which occurred on the day after Orthodox Christmas.
Following public outcry, the church released a statement in which it assured that the performance was used to celebrate the “victory over fascism” in Moscow in 1942, and to reflect a “worldwide condemnation” of the ideals of Nazi Germany.
In 2014, the country introduced a ban on Nazi symbols, however the law was later amended after politicians highlighted that it applied to documentaries and films about the Nazi regime and the Second World War. The Chairman of the public chamber of Udmurtia stated that the use of Nazi symbols, akin to those incorporated in the circus, are permitted for educational purposes.
Prosectors have not issued a comment on their current investigation.