Russia spends €320 million on 'Military Disneyland'

Russia's Ministry of Defence has spent at least €320 million on developing an army themed recreational park on the outskirts of Moscow, referred to by the Russian media as "The Military Disneyland".

The project, which is officially described as a "military-patriotic park for the culture and recreation of the armed forces" or "park Patriot" for short, was announced by the Ministry of Defence earlier this year. The aim is to create the only recreation and amusement park in the world which simulates aspects of military life.

Now construction has begun on the park and a total of 20 billion roubles (€320m) have already been spent by the Ministry of Defence since the start of 2015, according to Russian newspaper Kommersant's estimations. So far the most expensive single building is the planned 7 billion rouble (€112m) exhibition centre.

The Russian Ministry of Defence and the state body which oversees maintaining army facilities Oboronstroy, have explained that private funds are being used to finance the project, and as of yet there are still no estimates for how much more will be spent.

The park itself is an ambitious project intended to give civilians a chance to operate genuine military simulators and experience military facilities and equipment firsthand. Over 500 units of current military technology from all branches of the armed forces will be gradually introduced across the park.

The 55 sq km park, which will also include exhibition and commercial spaces, will exhibit tank simulators, military jets, armed personnel carriers, recreations of military labs and a sniper and Kalashnikov rifle shooting range which will be part of what the Ministry of Defence has called "the biggest shooting complex in the world." The park is planned to be almost the same size as central Moscow.

"This park will not be comparable to anything in Russia or in the world," Timur Ivanov, the head of Oboronostroy told the Russian Ministry of Defence's official TV channel Zvezda in April. "The concept of the park was developed at the request of defence minister Sergei Shoygu and it was passed in June of 2014."

"Its main aim is to popularise service in the armed forces, [to provide] patriotic education among young people and to demonstrate the capabilities of our modern military kit," Ivanov added.

The park will also play host to Russia's Armiya Expo 2015, which is taking place in June, and visitors to the event will be able to try out the installations while there. Work on the park is scheduled to continue until February 2016, when it will be unveiled to the general public.

During the park's limited run in June, visitors will reportedly be welcomed by the largest Russian flag in the country, measuring 200 sq m in size, which will be suspended from a 60 metre flagpole.

This is not the first initiative in the country to create military-based entertainment. Russia is also organising what it is referring to as the "World Military Games" this summer which will see representatives from different countries take part in a variety of competitions including a tank biathlon and manoeuvres in military jets.

Russia has reported that servicemen from Belarus and China have already attended conferences to discuss their participation, while countries who have joined previous, similar competitions held by Russia include Armenia, Kazakhstan and Serbia.