A leading cheerleader for Vladimir Putin has demanded parents whose children do not support the letter ‘Z’ pro-war philosophy are jailed.
The Stalin-era counter-intelligence plot SMERSH - motto Death to Spies - was used to obliterate subversion and the time of the Second World War.
Its wide-ranging remit was to wipe out “anti-Soviet elements” and hunt down real or imagined spies, ruthlessly liquidating those labelled traitors.
Chief propagandist Vladimir Solovyov told Russian state TV viewers that the time had come to bring back SMERSH because Putin needed “a completely rigid and systematically different approach”.
Then uber-loyalist MP Butina demanded parents of children who opposed Putin’s ‘Z’ campaign should be rounded up and jailed.
Solovyov responded: “We will reach a level of dictatorship which doesn't exist anywhere in the world.”
Solovyov, 58, said Putin needed an ideology which seemed to amount to a return to Stalinism.
“What I propose is a completely rigid and systematically different approach,” he demanded.
“It's having SMERSH [brutal counter-intelligence], it's having an ideology. It's changing the Constitution, it's introducing laws that are enforceable. It's allocating public money for films about the heroes of special operations.”
He asked Butina how to stop dissent among students against the ‘Z’ campaign to solidify support for the war in Ukraine.
He asked: “Are you suggesting putting their parents in jail?”
She replied: “Of course. And who brought them up…?
The exchange highlights the scale to which Putin’s closest backers are embracing extreme authoritarianism as his war effort stalls amid strong opposition from Ukraine.
Butina, 33, was arrested in the US in July 2018 and jailed for working as a foreign agent in the US after being held by the FBI for spying.
She was deported to Russia in October 2019 after her sentence was slightly reduced for good behaviour
After her release, she reinvented herself as a pro-Putin MP for the United Russia party.
In March, she launched a campaign for women to draw the letter ‘Z’ on their lapels supposedly to boost invading Russian troops who had the same sign daubed on their tanks and armoured vehicles.