Students at a Siberian high school were encouraged by visiting riot police to role-play as officers facing an attack from protesters.
In a video released by a TV station in the town of Nizhnevartovsk, pupils bombard ‘riot officers’ hiding behind a shield wall with balls in the local school gym.
Midway through some of the students pretending to be police break away and grab some of the protesters, picking them up off their feet.
The video, which swiftly went viral, comes as Russia has been gripped by nationwide protests over the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, the chief critic of president Vladimir Putin.
Local authorities promised an investigation.
In a statement on Wednesday, the town’s police department said that the video was taken during a lesson that visiting officers held at the school to “commemorate Russian soldiers who died in action abroad.”
“Children were shown a collection of police hats from around the world,” the statement said.
“Later, the police officers staged a performance where children were invited to role-play under police supervision.”
Police said that the school kids were given a lecture about police training and shown a patrol car.
Galina Gasymova, the school principal, was complimentary about the guest lesson.
“We’ve never had classes with the role-play before,” she was quoted as saying.
“I was glad to see that the children have shown interest in the event and were eager to take part in the proposed activities.”
Thousands of people have rallied from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea for two weekends in a row. In dozens of cites, peaceful protesters were met with a brutal police response, leading to a record 11,000 detentions across the country.
Opposition leaders earlier this month said that they would pause the protests in the face of an intensifying crackdown.