Early this week, a video surfaced showing a teenage Russian dance troupe twerking in a Winnie the Pooh-inspired performance in the city of Orenburg. The video, which is two minutes of nothing but twerking, promptly grabbed the attention of Russia's top government agencies, who are now conducting investigations into the matter. With more than five million hits so far, the viral video has sparked a national debate in Russia on decency, cultural morality, and even patriotism. (Perhaps the question Russia should be asking is, "Out of all the beloved childhood characters, why did you have to choose Winnie the Pooh?")
In the video, a person wearing a Vinni-Pukh (Russia's version of Winnie) costume comes out on stage looking for honey. When he can't find any, a swarm of girls in bee costumes storm the stage and start their routine, which is a montage of different variations of twerking. According to RT, the girls are from Kredo, a local dance studio, and the performance, which took place in January, was for their final project.
Hours after the video was posted on Monday, Russia's Investigative Committee (similar to the FBI), launched a criminal investigation into the performance, determining whether to bring charges of negligence and "perverted deeds" against the school, the venue, and any individuals related to the matter.
On Tuesday, the general prosecutor’s office launched a separate investigation. In a statement (translated by BuzzFeed), the general prosecutor's office said:
In order to avoid possible negative consequences for the children’s psyche, the provincial prosecutor’s office stressed the need for investigators to do everything possible to defend children from spreading information that denigrates their dignity and honor.
Pavel Astakhov, the Kremlin's children's rights ombudsman, issued a statement calling the video "vulgar" and "offensive" while throngs of outraged viewers commented similar sentiments online. Some even pointed out that the colors of the bee costumes, which are normally rendered in yellow and black, were making a political statement by being orange and black.
That color combination is the same one seen on St. George's ribbon, which has become a symbol of Russia's military victories and patriotism.
While it's unclear whether there was deeper meaning to the routine, the director of Kredo, Victoria Yakovenko, has tried to shift blame and defend the dance style in her response to the fiasco. She said in a statement (translated by Vocativ):
We don’t know who publicized this video, but it was done without the consent of the children who participated in the dance, or their parents. Before the buzz, this dance [twerking] was becoming more and more popular, and you can find several other similar candids of it on the internet.
According to RT, the mayor of Orenburg has ordered for a special committee of arts and culture officials to inspect every children's dance collective in the area for inappropriate routines. Twerking has since been dropped from the class curriculum at Kredo.
You can watch the performance below.