The following video shows a Russian lady subjecting a squirming baby to “dynamic exercises” that involve swinging it by its arms and ankles, upside down and over her head. Oddly, there is precedent: Russian swinging baby videos are a meme.
“Baby Yoga with Lena Fokina” (as, I am told, the title frame translates) originated on YouTube. It contains a URL that leads to a Russian ‘404 error’ page. The baby moves at the beginning (0:10) and end (5:10), and spends the middle portion swinging around like a discus. It’s so ridiculous, I burst out laughing the first time I saw the baby flip—then grew uncomfortably quiet as I contemplated that possibility that I was watching an infant being hopelessly maimed. But it can’t be real, right?
As it turns out, Russian swinging baby videos of dubious origin are a recurring phenomenon: Two years ago, video of a Russian (or perhaps Ukranian) man swinging a baby by its arms and legs ignited mass hysteria and led to Australian police raiding a journalist’s house. (Child abuses charges were later dropped.) In the aftermath, Liveleak posted a clip from a documentary about a Russian circus family, which shows a man “training” a baby by swinging it around. (Albeit significantly more gently.)
So where are these Russian swinging babies coming from? Is there someone in Russia producing these videos, chuckling under his breath when everyone freaks out? Or is it one of those oft-repeated, ever-evolving xenophobic legends, like the myth about Chinese restaurants sneaking cat meat into our takeout? Or do people in the Slavic world actually swing babies through the air, and just don’t care? In which case I predict a Cold War of righteous indignation, starting as soon as the above video appears on its first American mummy blog. [YouTube]