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Putin opens 'military Disneyland' near Moscow

By Ed Adamczyk
Putin opens 'military Disneyland' near Moscow
Russia's "Patriot Park" was dedicated Tuesday by President Vladimir Putin, featuring the "Army-2015" exhibit showcasing the latest in Russian technology. Photo courtesy of the Russian Defense Ministry

KUBINKA , Russia, June 17 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin opened "Patriot Park," a military theme park funded by the Russian Defense Ministry.

The 15,000-acre park, a hour away from Moscow in Kubinka, will be completed by 2017 featuring hotels, conference centers and a residence for Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. A massive assortment of military hardware will be on display on which children can climb and play.

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The park opens as military rhetoric and heightened patriotic passion accompanies Russia's annexation of Crimea and its involvement, officially denied, in Ukraine.

The Defense Ministry has allotted over 20 billion rubles ($363.3 million) to the project, which features an "Army-2015" exhibit showcasing the latest in Russian technology for sale to visiting delegations from around the world.

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Described as a "military Disneyland," the park will be capable of hosting tens of thousands of visitors. One attending on its opening day was Alexander Zaldostanov, leader of Moscow's Night Wolves motorcycle club, noted for its pro-Putin stance and overt Russian patriotism. He and several members plan a "patriotic park" in Sevasatopol, Crimea.

"When I look at all this stuff it makes me feel proud of Russia and realize that we have something to answer the Americans with. They wouldn't dare to press the button. In Soviet times, the army was a distant, faraway thing, but now we all feel closer to the army. The army is being romanticized, and I see that as a good thing. If we don't educate our own children, then America will do it for us ... like we have seen in Ukraine," Zaldostanov said.

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At the opening ceremony Tuesday, Putin called the park "an important element in our system of military-patriotic work with young people."

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