Is Masha and the Bear a Putin stooge? Critics claim cartoon with 4.18m subscribers is made by Kremlin to subvert children
- In one Masha even dons a Soviet border guard’s hat as she repels invaders
- Critics of the show said this was a metaphor for how Russia protects its borders
- Russian media has refuted the claims, calling them ‘pathological’ Russophobia
A Russian-made children’s cartoon show has been accused of being part of the Putin propaganda machine.
Masha and the Bear focuses on the relationship between a slight but imposing young girl and her protector, a huge bear.
In one Masha even dons a Soviet border guard’s hat as she repels invaders from the Bear’s carrot patch.
Masha from Masha and the Bear wearing a Soviet guards cap in an episode where she defends a cabbage patch from invaders, critics said this represents Russia and its borders
Critics said this was a metaphor for how Russia protects its borders.
The show, which has more than 4.18 million subscribers on YouTube and an accumulative 40 billion views, is produced in English in Moscow but has still drawn the ire of intellectuals in Russia’s neighbouring states.
The show has also recently ramped up its retail efforts, been added to Netflix and expanded to Spanish.
Last year, Finland’s top newspaper – Helsingin Sanomat – quoted a lecturer at Tallinn University’s Communication School as claiming that the bear symbolised Russia and was designed to place a positive image of the country in children’s minds.
Russian media has refuted the propaganda claims, calling them ‘pathological’ Russophobia
The lecturer, Priit Hobemagi, said that the series was a ‘beautifully presented’ part of a campaign that is dangerous for Estonian national security.
Anthony Glees, an intelligence expert from The University of Buckingham told The Times: ‘Masha is feisty, even rather nasty, but also plucky.
‘She punches above her weight. It’s not far-fetched to see her as Putinesque.’
Russia’s state media have refuted the claims from the likes of Estonia and Lithuania.
They have also branded the concerns in the Baltic states as ‘pathological’ Russophobia.
The company who produce the popular cartoon, Animaccord, said the show is an independent project that has never received state funding.