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Le Temps, Switzerland, 11/30/2007
Pro-Putin youth movements: reminder of the 1920ís soviet propaganda

Live from Moscow:
- It is pre-election time in Russia: legislatives on December 2 and presidential in March 2008
- 4 pro-Putin “patriotic” youth movements are getting very active:
Nashi, Mestnye, Molodaia Gvardia, Rossiia Molodaia
Speeches and methods are not without reminding the soviet propaganda of the 1920’s
One of their main theme is: mobilization against the internal and external enemies of Russia



I- The “Nashi” (“Ours!”), pro-Putin youth movement:

1- Headquarters:
At the entrance, very strict codes: a sign posted on the door reads:
“forbidden to come in without the proper badges”


2- Two objectives:

a) support the president

b) more importantly: prevent the triggering in Russia of a “color revolution” like the one in Georgia in 2003 and in Ukraine in 2004, when these 2 states declared their independence:
- this is why the movement was created in 2005
- it is funded by the Kremlin


3- Support of the Kremlin:

a) Putin himself told them of the full support of the Kremlin when he welcomed them in his summer residence in Zavidovo on July 24:
Out of the 58 young guests, 42 were Nashi “commissars”
Putin invited them to take a more active part on the political scene

b) Summer camp:
- In November, the Nashi received 10 million rubles [about $409,000] to finance its future summer camp:
in 2007, 10,000 youngsters participated in the training camp
in 2008, the Nashi is aiming for 50,000 participants
- This year, the central theme was demography: in Russia, it is declining (142.4 millions inhabitants vs. 150 in 1991);
and there were prestigious guests: vice-prime ministers Dmitri Medvedev and Serguei Ivanov stopped by, wearing undershirts with a slogan calling for women to procreate:
the leaders of the movement exposed to public condemnation the symbol of the counter-revolution: the thong:
an emblem of the Western perversion, the thong threatens the fertility of Russian women because they claim that it is a source of disease


4- Public gatherings:
The Nashi organizes public gatherings only for special occasions:

a) For instance, on October 7, 10,000 of them, all wearing the same clothes, gathered at the Kremlin to wish President Putin a happy birthday

b) Since it is pre-election time, they flood into:
- the streets
- the schools
- the universities
-> to remind voters to vote for United Russia, the political party that backs Putin


5- Tasks:

a) Miscellaneous:
- Organize blood collections
- Pay homage to the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War veterans
- Prevent meetings from the opposition
- Post observers in each polling station

b) Fight the enemies of Russia:
- For example, in 2006, when London refused for the umpteenth time to extradite the disgraced oligarch Boris Berezovski, the Nashi harassed British ambassador Tony Brenton for months, following him wherever he went
- Also, last spring, at the height of the Russian-Estonian dispute about the moving of a statue praising the Soviet army, the Nashi laid siege to the Estonian embassy in Moscow: they verbally aggressed the ambassador and broke the flag of her official vehicle  


6- Police:
The Nashi have their own security force, the DMD (Voluntary Youth Militia), which helps the police patrol certain areas with a high crime rate


7- Members:

a) The “patriotic” and anti-western rhetoric allegedly attracted 100,000 members:
that is 10 times more than when the movement was founded

b) Testimony: Roman, a 25-year-old:

Roman calls himself a “patriot”: the concept, hammered in the 89-page movement’s book, is very much in fashion in Russia these days:
- All the members must know this book backwards in order to pass the entrance exam
- The book, which has a red cover, says:
“Russian youth has become very patriotic”
“More young Russians than young Europeans are ready to take up arms to fight for their homeland”

Roman thinks that the number one public enemy is Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion who was sentenced to 5 days in jail [on November 24, 2007] for participating in an illegal march in Moscow, and who is the head of “The Other Russia”, the main opposing party to Putin:
“The fascists Kasparov and Limonov (the other main figure of “The Other Russia”) want to overthrow the existing government to establish something more American”

c) Testimony: Galia, a 23-year-old:

“This Kasparov! How can he call himself a patriot when he has an American passport? Organizations like his are financed by the United States. But Russia is a competitor of that country”

Galia, who has been a Nashi activist for the past 2 years, is a “commissar”:
- in the Nashi hierarchy, this is the 2nd rank (there are 4 of them)
- to become a “commissar”, you must:
participate in 2 “Seliger”, the education/training camp organized each summer by the Seliger lake in the Tver region, 400 kilometers [about 249 miles] northeast of Moscow
get the 8 certificates granted by the Nashi’s school of management, which includes classes of geopolitics, history of Russia and “psychology of mass manipulations”

3 months ago, Galia quit her job in a tourist company to dedicate herself “100% to the movement”
She hopes that she will have career opportunities:
She reminds us that some NOMs (Nationally Oriented Manager, the ultimate Nashi rank), found jobs at Gazprom or in the government



II- The “Mestnye” (“Locals”), another pro-Putin youth movement:

They recently helped the police find illegal immigrants on the Iaroslavski market in Moscow



III- The “Molodaia Gvardia” (“Young Guard”), another pro-Putin youth movement:

1- It is the youth movement of the United Russia party

2- It allegedly has 70,000 members

3- It recently opened dart or paint shooting centers in Vladimir, Briansk, Ulianovsk and Vladivostok:
- The targets are portraits of Garry Kasparov, Osama Bin Laden and Andrus Ansip (Estonian prime Minister, called a “fascist”)
- The action is called “Vote with your rifle!”
- The purpose: enable the youngsters to “get rid of their hatred of the enemies of Russia”
- Kirill, a 20-year-old activist: He does not see “what is wrong with that, as long as we do not shoot with real bullets”

4- These days, Kirill and his friend Dmitri are practicing to occupy the public places of downtown Moscow, in order to prevent the opposition to do the same on December 2:
According to them, it is all about manipulation: “You think that people choose! But it’s definitely possible to control its opinions”



IV- Hatred of the West:

In all these youth movements, the hatred of the West, suspected of wanting to weaken Russia in order to rob it of its wealth, is vivid

Their geopolitical vision is that Russia, located at the strategic heart of the continent, must prevail:
“He who controls this strong geographical location will control the world”, says the small Nashi red book





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Translation and summary provided by The Croissant. © The Croissant 2007. All rights reserved.