/

Russian Army choir lauds ‘polite people’

AFP-JIJI

The Russian Army choir has released a song glorifying the troops in unmarked uniforms who seized Crimea — swiftly dubbed “the polite people” for their silent demeanor.

The deep-voiced Alexandrov Ensemble, better known as the Red Army Choir, released “Polite People” on its official YouTube site, accompanied by footage of a performance in Crimea this month.

The choir’s song features lyrics praising the troops who “simply stand politely nearby, they simply carry guns,” set to the strumming of balalaikas.

The heavily armed soldiers who appeared in Crimea in late February and surrounded government buildings and Ukrainian Army bases gained the nickname “the polite people” in Russia because they refused to identify themselves but posed for publicity shots with children and women pushing prams. Russian President Vladimir Putin even used the term, saying his allies who came under Western sanctions over actions in Ukraine were “polite people.”

Those who oppose Russia’s actions in the strategic Black Sea peninsula on the other hand describe them as the “little green men.”

Putin insisted at the time that the unmarked troops in Crimea were members of local self-defense brigades and suggested they bought their uniforms at army surplus stores. He finally admitted last week that Russian soldiers were deployed on the peninsula before and during the March 16 referendum on its departure from Ukraine.

There was never any real doubt that the men were highly professional Russian troops, as the song virtually acknowledges.

“Their helmets are polite, their faces are polite, even their steel vehicles are polite,” the lyrics run, against a picture of a soldier in a helmet and black mask, carrying a machine gun. “The polite people will preserve the glory and honor of the fatherland,” the rousing chorus reassures.

The choir’s website says the song was first performed in Crimea on a tour from April 10 to 14.

Russia has a strong tradition of choirs in its security forces and law enforcement authorities. The Russian police choir scored a cult hit with its cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” which it recently performed at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.