As Russians struggle to come to terms with a horrific US-style school shooting in Crimea, which has left at least 20 people dead and dozens injured, Kremlin-controlled media are blaming the “corrupting influence” of the West for inspiring the attack.
State television has broadcast shocking images of the rampage, much of it recorded by teenage college students trying to flee the suspected lone gunman, named as 18-year old Vladislav Roslyakov, as he stalked the corridors shooting classmates.
Broadcaster RT, funded by the Kremlin, has spoken of the “shocking resemblance” between the Kerch attack and the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in the United States.
It is for investigators to establish a link, RT says. But alongside photographs of the shooters in both incidents, wearing strikingly similar outfits, RT points out that the perpetrators of both attacks were the same age, hit their school cafeterias with explosive devices, killed their classmates and finally committed suicide in their school libraries.
In other media, the blame for the Kerch attack was more directly focused.
“This person was under the strong influence of Western subculture,” said Sergey Mikheyev, a political analyst speaking on a nightly current-affairs show on Russian state television.
“Western subculture builds its matrix on the cult of violence. The one who has a weapon in his hands is right. This is a purely American approach to the matter,” Mikheyev added.
Not everyone in Russia has been reaching to the United States to explain the Kerch massacre.
Some Russian lawmakers have questioned whether the suspected gunman was sufficiently checked before being allowed to purchase a gun and ammunition, which he did legally.
But the Russian President himself has waded into the debate, blaming globalization and the internet for the tragedy.
“It all started with the tragic events in the United States, in the schools of the United States,” Vladimir Putin told the Valdai discussion forum in Sochi in southern Russia.
“Young people with unstable minds create some kind of false heroes for themselves,” Putin added.
School attacks in Russia are relatively rare, although the country did suffer a notorious school massacre at Beslan in 2004, in which more than 300 people were killed, including 186 children.
But concerns about western culture and liberal values leading to violence seem to be gaining traction.
“We must understand that these heights of freedom can lead to chaos,” said Mikheyev on state television.
“Freedom in its absolute manifestation is chaos and destruction,” he added.