KURSK, Russia -- When a trainload of tanks, guns, and other military hardware supposedly seized from the Syrian battlefields pulled up at Kursk railway station on a cloudy afternoon this week, a jubilant crowd was there to greet it.
An orchestra belted out Soviet war songs. A state-funded paramilitary youth movement performed a dance for world peace. A World War II veteran in battered shoes lauded Russia's armed forces. And officials in slick suits delivered the obligatory praise for the president and commander in chief, Vladimir Putin.
"The next generation must understand that the enemy is not far away," said Acting Regional Governor Roman Starovoit. "It must be liquidated on the threshold of our motherland's borders."
Kursk, a city of 450,000 people five hours by train from Moscow, was the third stop on a nationwide, 28,000-kilometer propaganda tour launched by Russia's Defense Ministry to showcase the achievements of its military campaign in Syria. Putin announced the campaign in September 2015 with the promise of air support for his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad's fight against the extremist Islamic State group (IS) and against rebel forces backed by the West.
The traveling exhibition, titled Syrian Breakthrough, is meant to raise support for the armed forces among a Russian population weary of the country's military campaigns in Ukraine and the Middle East, and increasingly preoccupied with problems at home amid stagnating incomes and falling real wages.
A screenshot from the 2016 film adaptation of 'Deadpool'
Deadpool Max, a comic-book installment of the superhero saga that stormed the U.S. box office, includes a chapter about the bungling superhero's face-off with Zemo, a white supremacist hellbent on repeating the Holocaust. Deadpool's adversary spouts radical anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on his way to the grave.
David Lapham, the author, follows the chapter up with a note of caution to his readers, explaining that the historical figures and events praised by Zemo — the Holocaust, Hitler, and the KKK — are deplorable. "I know you're all savvy readers who get sarcasm and satire," Lapham writes.