Vladimir Putin plans on utilizing Olympics funds to revive a program initiated under Joseph Stalin during the 1930s. The Russian president recently announced that money left over from hosting the Sochi Winter Olympics will be used to relaunch a Soviet fitness regimen to foster military preparedness.
The Ready for Labor and Defense Plan (abbreviated as GTO in Russia) was a Stalin program that Putin told the Kremlin will “pay homage to our national historical traditions.” While pitching the program the Russian president said that it would teach citizens to “stand up for themselves, their family, and in the final run, the Fatherland.”
It is not currently known how closely Vladimir Putin’s plan will mirror Joseph Stalin’s. A report about Stalin’s GTO program in the McGill University Journal said the plan encouraged sport in the everyday life of Soviet citizens in order to enhance military preparedness, to improve personal hygiene, and to teach civic defense.
“The Olympics and Paralympics have demonstrated that we are again becoming one of the leaders in global sports,” Putin stated after the Sochi Winter Olympics that cost Russia $50 billion to host. The Russian president’s approval ratings have increased from 65 percent to 72 percent since the beginning of the year and actions taken in Crimea.
Putin is also reportedly focused on increasing the life expectancy of Russian and stopping a population decline that began in 1991. According to Reuters, in 1991 when the Soviet Union fell apart Russia had a population no 148.6 million. In 2011, the most recent statistics available, the population is now under 142 million.
Part of the Soviet GTO plan includes a “making a new man” section. According to the McGill study about the program, the Soviet government considered the creation of a new man of great importance and viewed such males as the builders of the Communist Society. School is the former USSR also played an important role in the making of a new man. “Education is viewed by the Communist Part as an instrument for the formation of a Communist Society,” the report added. The orientation of Soviet schools reportedly included different stages of introduction into Communist concepts. Students ages seven to nine were identified as Octobrists, Pioneers were aged 10 to 14, and Komsomols were young adults aged 15 to 27. Through school activities and competitions the teachers were reportedly focused on the productioins of “politically trained and disciplined builders of Communism.”
[Image Via: Yevgeny Khaldei/LOC/Wikipedia]