Nazi monkey, goats main attraction at Russian state-run circus

The act was commissioned by the Russian Orthodox Church, who cited a 2020 amendment exempting them from the 2014 blanket ban on Nazi imagery.

Nazi Swastika (photo credit: REUTERS)
Nazi Swastika
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An investigation has been launched into a Russian state-circus featuring a variety of animals with Nazi symbols, most notably a monkey wearing a Nazi uniform, AFP reported Wednesday.
The act in question was specifically commissioned by the Russian Orthodox Church for show in the city of Izhevsk on January 8, the day after the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas.
Images and clips of the event circulated over social media, which depicted a woman in Soviet military uniform leading a monkey in a Nazi uniform around the ring, as well as goats with swastika-blankets draped across their backs, according to AFP.
In a video published by the circus itself, local Orthodox priest Roman Voskresenskikh described the act as "a historical excursion into Christmas of different years." In a statement, the local diocese said that "A special feature of circus art is entertainment, and there is nothing surprising in the fact that the images used in it have an ironic and sometimes even grotesque character," according to AFP.
The act was one of a few different history-themed performances at the circus that day, with other ones including a tribute to the anniversary of the end of Russia's victory over Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion in 1812, and another commemorating the turning point for the Battle of Moscow, the anniversary of which would have been the day earlier, January 7. It also reportedly included portions covering the role of the church in Russian history, according to Russian news agency RIA.
However, displaying Nazi imagery is illegal in Russia, and has been since a blanket ban was put in place in 2014.
The church and circus, however, maintain that they were exempt from the law, citing a 2020 amendment penned by President Vladimir Putin that permitted the use of Nazi symbols for purposes other than the promotion of fascism.
The state circus in the Izhevsk, which is the capital city of Russia's Udmurtia region, is among the city's most valued cultural institutions, and is the site of the annual International Circus Festival. In fact, according to the city's official website, "the world knows Izhevsk as the birthplace of this grand festival of circus arts."
Also of considerable importance to is the victory of Russia over Nazi Germany in World War II, with Victory Day celebrations being among the most popular in the city, according to the city's website.
It is this importance placed on Russia's victory over Nazi Germany that caused the 2014 ban on Nazi imagery to be a subject of some debate among many in Russia, with lawmakers worried it could ban documentaries and many fearing it could result in banning World War II battle reenactments, AFP reported.