Video of a dance performance in Orenburg has become controversial. (Screenshot via YouTube)

MOSCOW — As culture wars over Russia’s moral core ratchet up, the country is descending into a national debate – and official inquiry – over twerking.

It all started with an innocent – well, okay, maybe not so innocent – video of a dance performance in the Russian city of Orenburg, which rests along the unofficial dividing line between European and Asiatic Russia.

The video shows a troupe of girls from the local dance school “Credo” dressed in orange-and-black striped leotards, bootie-shaking with the sort of gusto and synchronization that would put Miley Cyrus to shame, as a person dressed in a Russian version of Winnie the Pooh costume looks on.

The performers were supposed to be lithe little bees, thumping and fluttering around Winnie the Pooh’s honeypot.

But was it also a political statement, since they were wearing the orange-and-black striped colors of St. George – which has become a symbol of Russian patriotism and especially, President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party?

No matter. The video went up on YouTube on Sunday – Russian Orthodox Easter – garnered nearly 4 million hits, and has now sparked an inquiry by Russia’s federal Investigative Committee into, among other things, "depraved acts."

The jokes since the video’s release have been endless – and the incident has even inspired political jabs.

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny scoffed on Twitter that the video was “a thorough undermining of our ties that bind” – poking fun at how Putin famously worried in 2012 that Russian society is experiencing “a clear shortage of spiritual ties that bind.” The influence of the church in official moral regulation appears to have only increased since then.

Pavel Astakhov, the Kremlin’s ombudsman for children’s rights, called the video “vulgar” and “insulting.”

The Investigative Committee is concerned that the girls in the video are younger than 18. According to Russian tabloid news outlet Life News, the head of the dance studio said neither the children in the video nor their parents knew it was being posted online.

Life News also reported that the twerking class has been cancelled.

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