Superhero surge in Russia

The supermen and women from Hollywood films seem to have sprung from the screen to Russia’s streets, with at least five superheroes surfacing in a number of provincial Russian cities in the last month.

In mid-March, several young men from the city of Chelyabinsk in the Russian Urals, filmed a man patrolling the streets late at night. He was dressed in black with a bright green letter M printed on his chest. The young people only laughed at the homebred superman. Offended, the hero who calls himself “Mstitel” (Russian for “Avenger”) recorded a video message addressing Chelyabinsk citizens, and uploaded it on YouTube.

“Some people got frightened when they saw me, others just laughed, so I decided to announce my true intentions”, explained Avenger. “I’ve made up my mind to place myself on the side of law and order. I did not care about helping others until my family suffered. So now I’m going to patrol the city streets at night and protect people against hooligans”, assured the hero.

The video address, it seems, promoted the local superman much better than his deeds. Immediately after the address, a group dedicated to Avenger was created in Vkontakte (a social network) – the Russian counterpart of the world-known Facebook. The frenzy around the good-doer has become so great he has even got himself an assistant who helps sort letters and conveys people’s gratitude.

There are of course those who use the social networking website to mock the hero. Avenger, who refuses to give away his real name, took the blow philosophically: “It’s a pity people wrote a lot of malicious jokes and comments, but I understand this cannot be avoided. I will still continue to protect Chelyabinsk citizens”.

Avenger flatly refuses to speak with media representatives, be it radio, TV or newspapers. He has also vowed to keep his identity hidden and said that he does not need any financial support. He warned citizens there could be swindlers who might want to make a profit out of his good name and demand money: “True superheroes never take money from people”.

The video uploaded by Avenger produced an effect chicken pox has in a kindergarten group – fresh superheroes started to pop up throughout Russia uploading their video messages to Avenger on YouTube. The first in the series was a man dressed in black who called himself Chernobyl from the city of Ulyanovsk. According to the man, he had been helping his fellow citizens for the past couple of years, but was too shy to come out in the open. However, the moment the internet community took an interest in his counterpart, he felt it was time to make a speech. “I am glad there are people just like me who feel it is their duty to protect people. I do hope we will become friends”.

Judging by the number of defenders that have emerged in the last fortnight, Russian citizens are protected better than they think. After Chernobyl’s video message, several other heroes made an appearance on YouTube. Among them was the Ninth Ninja from Yakutsk wearing a bullet-proof jacket and speaking against a backdrop of his bathroom. There was also Guerilla who did not see fit to introduce himself properly and wore a gas mask and Tuttifrulka from Chelyabinsk – a glamorous man with red hair and a languid voice.

Some of the video responses are of course a mockery, but they still prove Avenger was noticed. It is quite within reason to suggest that the next several weeks will see an impressive rise in the number of superheroes throughout the country.

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