(CNN) Ukrainian The authorities are accusing Russia To try to export an unlikely phenomenon: teenage gangs inspired by a Japanese anime game take to the streets for mass brawls.
These gangs became known as “Redan PMC”, combining the name of a Japanese anime character with the acronym of the Private Military Company, by which they are best known. Wagner Mercenary group.
They seem to have started in Moscow as a way for teenagers to fight organized gangs of football fans. Teenagers organize through Telegram channels and appear in specific places as a flash mob. Show a recent video clip An ongoing battle In a business center in the Russian capital. Russian news agencies also reported a fight at a Moscow subway station.
In the past week, Redan gangs have also begun to appear on the streets of several Ukrainian cities – giving more work to an already overstretched police force. Groups of teenagers gathered in the capital, Kiev, as well as Lviv and Kharkiv; An alleged 16-year-old gang leader was arrested in Dnipro.
Redan fans wear a very special motif: a spider outline with number 4. It is derived from a Japanese anime series called “Hunter x Hunter”, in which there is a gangster group called Gen’ei Ryodan (hence Redan). Videos and photos on social media show that Redan members in Russia also prefer black hoodies and checkered pants.
The Russian authorities recognized the appearance of Redan. State news agency RIA Novosti It reported that more than 350 people – 319 of them minors – were taken to police stations in Moscow for their involvement in Redan. It quoted a security source as saying that gas cartridges and knives were confiscated.
The agency also reported that supporters of the “Raydan subculture” were arrested in Kazan, St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk.
The appearance of Redan even got the Kremlin talking. It’s important to stop “illegal actions. Of course, it’s rather, let’s say, a pseudo-subculture that goes along with a minus sign that doesn’t benefit our youth,” said spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday.
But the Ukrainian National Police claims that the Russians are trying to export the negative influence of Reidan to Ukrainian teenagers through a disinformation campaign on their Telegram channels.
Police said on Tuesday that they had blocked 18 channels and groups on Telegram “that were created to carry out Russian military information campaigns, undermine the domestic situation in Ukraine and engage minors in illegal activities.”
They added that “about 30 youth gatherings were held in different parts of the country over the course of two days, and law enforcement officers responded immediately and prevented disputes between teenagers.”
in Kharkiv Alone, law enforcement officers identified 245 participants in what they described as a rapid mob launched by the Russian Federation. 215 of them are minors. Volodymyr Timoshko, the city’s police chief, said the Russian security services – the FSB – “gathered all these people together through manipulation and deception, and they should have started a fight so that Russian television could use them. Gas canisters, knives and brass knuckles were found in the possession of many ( participants).
On Tuesday, the police’s cybersecurity unit said it had arrested the 16-year-old founder of the Redan Telegram channel in the city of Dnipro.
In a video recorded and later released by police, the teen says, “I am the founder of a group with about 2,500 members. I set it up to make money from advertising posts, as the Redan topic is popular on social media.”
He adds that the idea “came from Russia with the intention of destabilizing. I ask everyone to stop organizing meetings and looking for Redanists”.
in the Ukrainian capital, police He said the instigators of the “subculture that came from Russia” were two teenagers, a 15-year-old girl who created a Telegram channel and a 14-year-old boy who organized a “dispute meeting”.
In an interview released by the police, the girl said the group was “for publicity only… I also want to say there are no redans.” [in] Kyiv. Like a teenager in the Dnipro, Reidan’s heresy, she added, was “straightforward Russian propaganda.” I ask you not to believe such information and focus on taking care of our people who are fighting right now.”
A total of more than 700 people have been summoned to police stations, most of them minors, said Vasil Bohdan, head of the National Police’s Juvenile Protection Department. Bohdan said the force was liking the parents “To show interest in who their children are communicating with.”
It seems likely that now that the police in both Russia and Ukraine move against the Redanists, the heresy will fade away. But her sudden appearance on both sides of the border may speak as much of teenage boredom and the power of social media channels as of any cunning destabilization scheme.
CNN’s Josh Pennington and Radina Jegova contributed to this report.
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