Underwear dance in dorm nearly gets Russian cadets expelled

By The Canadian Press
January 18, 2018 - 8:45am

MOSCOW — An underwear dance video filmed in a college dormitory nearly got some Russian cadet pilots expelled and sparked a discussion among Russia's political elite.

The mock striptease recorded by cadets at the Ulyanovsk Civil Aviation Institute went viral earlier this week. Some Russian politicians called on the public training school located in Lenin's birthplace to expel the students. The Federal Agency for Air Transportation decried the video as an "immoral incident" and an "insult to civil aviation professionals."

The students' all-male rendition of the official video for Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction" showed a dozen freshmen wearing boxer shorts, boots, chest straps and cadet caps, thrusting their hips to the beat as they walked around the dorm, mopped the floor and ironed their shirts.

The college video looks light-hearted, but the outcry over it highlights Russian unease with gay visibility.

Following legislation in several regions, Russia adopted a federal law in 2013 prohibiting the dissemination to minors of "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations." The law has been condemned as an outright ban on public discussions of LGBT issues, but authorities defend it as being in the interest of children.

Students at colleges elsewhere in Russia recorded their own videos as tributes to the one made by the Ulyanovsk cadets. Two posted Thursday on YouTube showed students at an agriculture college and at school affiliated with the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry also dancing to "Satisfaction."

Earlier this week, Ulyanovsk Governor Sergei Morozov ordered an investigation of whether the future pilots who reportedly filmed the video in the dorm violated the institute's charter. But Morozov disagreed that the students deserved to be expelled.

"You cannot educate them further or make them more patriotic" by kicking them out of college, he said.

The region's transportation prosecutors concluded Thursday that the cadets and their video that "displayed signs of erotica" didn't violate any laws or school rules. However, they issued a warning to the college's rector for "failing to ensure the educational process."

The prosecutors' statement comes after two days of intense public discussion.

A legendary Russian test pilot, Magomed Tolboyev, told the Govorit Moskva radio station on Tuesday that "when children dance like this, it's a tragedy." He called on the rector of the college and the chief of the Russian Aviation Agency to resign.

A top news show on a state-owned channel devoted 20 minutes Wednesday to a segment with lawmakers and pilots discussing the young men's stunt.

Ivan Mokhanchuk, a member of the Kremlin-sponsored People's Front movement, argued that the video was damaging to Russia's image abroad because graduates of civil aviation colleges can be conscripted as army pilots in wartime.

"Is this what they're going to show to our enemies?" Mokhanchuk fumed.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the eccentric leader of the LDPR party, rushed to the freshmen's defence Thursday, saying he thinks they were undressed because the dorm was too hot.

"The central heating was working well," he said.

Nataliya Vasilyeva, The Associated Press

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