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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian boys should play with Russian toys, not guns and battle tanks fashioned after Western models, the cabinet minister in charge of Russia's defense industry said.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin took some time out from his oversight of the production of real weapons, turning to toy arms in comments on Twitter.
"Our children have played with Leopards enough," he said on his Twitter account, referring to a German-made tank first introduced in the Cold War era.
"I have given a command to think about the production of toy models of Russian weapons and military equipment," said Rogozin, a former nationalist political party leader who until recently was Russia's envoy to NATO.
Russia takes pride in its World War Two victory over Nazi Germany on the Eastern Front and a history of making weapons which ranges from Kalashnikov assault rifles to Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, but many of the toy guns and model weapons for sale are based on foreign arms.
Some toy stores are lined with toy soldiers holding U.S. flags and models of Western-made rifles, without a Kalashnikov to be found.
Russia's defense sector, while the second biggest exporter in the world, has been criticized at home for failing to keep up with Western technology and regularly missing order targets.
President Dmitry Medvedev last year threatened to buy more arms from abroad, following Russia's purchase of two French Mistral class helicopter carriers, if Russian arms manufacturers are unable to fulfill the needs of the armed forces.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has promised to spend nearly 20 trillion roubles ($665 billion) by 2020 to rearm Russia's army, suffering from years of lack of investment, low morale and outdated equipment.
($1 = 30.1415 Russian roubles)
Reporting By Thomas Grove; editing by Steve Gutterman and Paul Casciato