Category Archives: nashi

The Horror of Summer with Nashi

The horror of Nashi, revealed by Germany’s Financial Times:

In a sunlit glade fringed with pine forest and a deep-blue lake, thousands of hands clap in unison with the beat. It could be a rock festival, were it not for the song’s refrain – “Go on, Russia.” – and the clunky slogans splashed across the speaker stacks: “Let’s modernise the country! Let’s defend our sovereignty!”

This is morning aerobics at Lake Seliger, 200 miles north-west of Moscow. For two weeks, 10,000 student-age activists from Nashi, a youth group that supports Vladimir Putin, the president, are gathered at a summer camp to sing, dance, swim, and take part in an “educational megaproject”, with lectures on everything from entrepreneurship to civil rights.

Nashi – Russian for “our own” – was formed with Kremlin blessing two years ago to channel youth political activism and oppose attempts at a Ukraine-style “orange” revolution. Today, thanks to its largely corporate sponsorship, it is the best funded of a handful of pro-Kremlin groups. Claiming 10,000 active members and 200,000 volunteers, it dwarfs any opposition movement. Nashi calls itself a “youth democratic anti-fascist movement”. Others say it is an example of what it claims to oppose, deserving its nickname – the Nashists.

Critics point to the group’s high-profile, and controversial, activities. These include the month-long hounding of Sir Tony Brenton, British ambassador to Moscow, after he spoke at an opposition conference. It was Nashi members who organised thuggish demonstrations outside Estonia’s embassy after Tallinn dismantled a Soviet war memorial.

At Seliger plenty of what Nashi calls patriotism, but others might term nationalism, is in evidence. There are ubiquitous calls to defend Russian sovereignty, with one poster illustrated with a nuclear missile. A board headed “Red Light District” shows posters with the faces of Mikhail Kasyanov, Garry Kasparov and Eduard Limonov – leaders of the opposition Other Russia coalition – digitally superimposed on lingerie-clad women. “They’re shown as prostitutes because they’re traitors to the country,” says Alina Belyagina one of several members of Nashi’s information section assigned to “escort” journalists around the camp.

Nearby there is a lecture on electoral law. The camp aims to train leaders to form a 60,000-strong force to monitor voting and conduct exit polls at parliamentary elections in December and next March’s presidential election, to counter any opposition claims of vote-rigging. “We will have exit poll data that will confirm the official results,” says Dmitry Baranovsky, co-ordinator of Nashi’s election programme.

Conversation is dominated by the idea that the west will work with domestic opposition to subvert the elections. Activists reverently of Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin ideologist who coined the term “sovereign democracy” to describe the closely-controlled Putin political system, and who will address the camp’s final day. Asked against whom “sovereign democracy” must be defended, Yulia Kuliyeva, a 20-year-old member of Nashi’s ideology department, echoes Kremlin officials twice her age: “We are defending our sovereignty not from someone else, but for ourselves, so that people listen to us, so that we can speak and our opinion will be taken into account,” she says.

Nashi does attempt to counter the racist nationalism of far-right groups. An “ethno-village” at the camp displays cultures of Russia’s many minorities. Invited foreign guests will lecture on their national cultures. And, for many, politics seem secondary to a belief that attending Seliger is good for career prospects. In the “Gazprom tower”, Nashi members can apply for internships with the state-run gas company and other energy groups.

Analysts suggest that just as today’s pro-Putin United Russia party resembles the Soviet Communist party in that ambitious officials feel they need to join, so Nashi has echoes of the Komsomol, the communist youth league. Vasily Yakemenko, the former Kremlin official who founded Nashi, admits some symbols are similar but insists that the ideology differs fundamentally.

Annals of the Horrors of Nashi

The Thoughts of a Conservative Christian blog reports:

MOST OF US REMEMBER the joke from the famous Robin Williams film Good Morning, Vietnam.

“Here’s Airman Adrian Cronauer with a little riddle for you. What’s the difference between the army and the cub scouts? Ahhhnnn. Cub scouts don’t have heavy artillery.”

Nashi1.jpg

The latest incarnation of the scouts in Russia does not have its own artillery–not yet, anyway–but they did have several Russian Air Force (VVS) jets at their disposal this past week. A flight of six Sukhoi Su-27 fighters (shown above) — part of the VVS’s demonstration team — performed Tuesday for thousands of members of the youth group Nashi. The occasion was the group’s annual summer outdoor camp at Lake Seliger, a site some 350 kilometers from Moscow.

The Nashi summer camp has now been turned into campaign stop and political pulpit for major figures in the Russian government–hence the willingness of the powers-that-be in the Kremlin to spend the hundreds of thousands of dollars it cost to put on the Su-27 aerial display for the event.

The six aircraft had to fly a full three hours to reach the site of the Nashi camp, put on a one-hour show and then return to their base at Lipetsk. VVS officials would not provide any cost figures for the show they put on, but one of Russia’s most well-known test pilots, Magomed Tolboyev, told Obshaya Gazeta in Moscow that it would cost at least $216,000. This is based on afigure of $12,000 per flight hour to operate the Su-27, which consumes 5 to 6 tons of aviation fuel per hour. Aviation fuel costs about 20,000 roubles ($790) per ton, and this does not include the additional expense of airport landing and takeoff fees and air traffic control charges.

Postcards from Neo-Soviet Russia . . . Lots and Lots of Them!

The American Enterprise Institute’s online journal The American reports on the continuing, and increasingly aggressive, horrors of the Nashi youth cult, which is now actively calling for insurrection in the United States using the diatribes of Lenin as a model (hat tip — Robert Amsterdam):

Recently, the American Enterprise Institute received several letters originating in the Russian Federation. Meticulously copied out on typical Russian notebook paper in neat, handwritten English, the letters present an emotional appeal addressed to “The American Nation” and “the relatives of soldiers injured and dead in Afghanistan and Iraq”.

After summing up the letdowns of U.S. Middle East policy, the authors also alert the American people to their government’s active interference in Russia’s domestic affairs, as exemplified by the intent of the State Department to “provide financial and technological aid to NGO [sic] and groups of civil society that operate in Russia.” The consequences of such an erroneous approach will be dire, the appeal warns: “It means that the confrontation is irreversible. It also means the return to the times of the Cold War. At its best.”

The letters conclude by calling U.S. citizens to action: “Take to the streets! Cry for the resignation of the President and dismissal of the State Secretary! Stop fanatics at the State Department!”

The return address on one envelope yields a telling clue about the ideological underpinnings of its authors. The letters came courtesy of Nashi. Nashi, which means “ours” in Russian, is a fiercely patriotic pro-Putin youth organization formed to prevent the threat of purportedly Western-funded “color revolutions” and return Russia to the status of a global superpower.

(A scanned copy of the Nashi Appeal to the American People can be found here.)

At most, Nashi’s warnings will elicit a furtive smile or a listless shrug from the average American. The sentiments expressed in this “appeal”, however, are indicative of a broader phenomenon: the rapidly diminishing prospect of a genuine civil society in post-communist Russia. In its place, Putin’s seven-year rule has given rise to government-sponsored surrogate groups, such as Nashi—intensely anti-Western and well-skilled in toeing the official line.

In Russia, a sense of belonging is important. The pervasive mentality that group membership outweighs the individual stems not just from the Soviet era, but from the roots of Russian history. Thus, it’s not surprising that in the post-Soviet, post-“chaos” (read: Yeltsin) Russia, guided by the principles of Putin’s “sovereign democracy”, a group like Nashi is gaining prominence. It is also not surprising that this group parallels others from Russia’s past—ones that enjoyed the full support of the state in return for ideologically-tested, unflinching obedience, with a thorough dedication to combat all manner of “subversive elements”.

The closest historical equivalent of Nashi is the Soviet-era Komsomol, the infamous youth wing of the Communist Party. As Bolshevik leaders quickly realized the value that youth indoctrination possessed for fulfilling regime needs, the Komsomol was born in 1918. In October 1920, speaking before The Third All-Russia Congress of The Russian Young Communist League, Vladimir Lenin set the course to the rising generation of Bolshevik leaders:

You are well aware that, as long as Russia remains the only workers’ republic and the old, bourgeois system exists in the rest of the world, we shall be weaker than they are, and be constantly threatened with a new attack; and that only if we learn to be solidly united shall we win in the further struggle and—having gained strength—become really invincible. Thus, to be a Communist means that you must organize and unite the entire young generation and set an example of training and discipline in this struggle. Then you will be able to start building the edifice of communist society and bring it to completion.

And so they did, generation after generation, railing against “imperialist aggressors” abroad and exposing “the fifth column” at home. Along with the Young Pioneers, they occasionally assisted the elderly and planted trees in school gardens. So it went, until Gorbachev and Yeltsin brought an end to the “communist paradise”.

Now, fast-forward nearly nine decades from Lenin’s speech to a free Russia. Then, substitute the communist references therein to “sovereign democracy” – presto, the Nashi Manifesto [AEI links to the Russian original, La Russophobe has translated it here]

We must be realistic. In the post Soviet space, the West—under the slogans of democracy and freedom —is conducting a major geopolitical game to force Russia out of global politics and attempting to institute external control of Russia itself. In the best case scenario, this will lead to economic decay and Russia becoming a resource appendage to developed economies. External control will never allow for a genuine modernization of Russia. In the worst case scenario, our country can expect a split along ethnic and religious lines and a civil war. Fascist organizations in Russia are helping to realize the latter scenario. They are the allies of Russian liberals. Our goal in this situation: to unite the Russian youth under the banner of a wide socio-patriotic movement, which will seek to preserve Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; this movement is “Nashi.”

The similarities do not stop at ideology, however. At the behest of the Kremlin, Nashi was created in 2005 as an “anti-fascist” organization to combat xenophobia and intolerance while promoting social responsibility, such as following a healthy lifestyle, organizing blood drives, or helping needy children. The main focus of the group, however, lies in assuring—by all means necessary—that Putin’s “course” is not altered by unpleasant perturbations such as Georgia’s “Rose Revolution” in 2003 or its “orange” equivalent in Ukraine a year later. Ilya Yashin, the youth leader of the opposition Yabloko party, predicts that “Nashi will serve as a cover for storm brigades that will use violence against democratic organizations.”

But when it comes to acknowledging economic realities of the day, Nashi lags behind the Komsomol in the staunchness of belief. While the young Soviet communists derided the global bourgeois “alienation of labor”, an independent Russia has vigorously pursued dealings with the former “oppressor nations” and as a result, developed a thriving market economy of its own. Although Nashi’s manifesto emphatically supports the “need for modernization”, it simultaneously employs the dreaded “resource appendage” bugaboo against foreign capital. Most recently, the Kremlin has pushed hard for WTO entry, although the latest round of consultations has not yielded the desired results. Nashi is conspicuously silent on WTO entry, but the cognitive dissonance is not entirely shocking, since its Kremlin bosses have employed the same jarring double standard in regard to foreign companies in Russia

Nashi operations are conducted with a disconcerting uniformity. The ideological training of new recruits occurs during the annual summer camp at Lake Seliger, 350 kilometers north of Moscow. Guided by the wise tutelage of founder and ideological guru, Vasiliy Yakemenko, the 10,000 red t-shirt wearing activists – or commissars as they are called – rise early, conduct mandatory mass exercise sessions, and attend lectures on current politics and other ideologically-suitable topics.

Western aggressor nations remain a perennial concern for Nashi. For instance, in protest of Estonia’s controversial removal of a Soviet-era World War II monument in April, portraits of Estonia’s leaders with Hitleresque moustaches have been posted all over the Seliger complex. Furthermore, Nashi members with a penchant for history can attend the “museum of double standards”, aimed at exposing the Western bias toward Russia’s record on human rights and democracy, while ignoring more atrocious violations at home. As related by Times reporter Tony Halpin, “One exhibit shows a grandmother pushing a policeman at a pro-democracy protest in Moscow next to an astonishing claim that 80 died in riots at the G8 summit in Germany.”

The group’s members are trained to view the opposition (primarily the anti-Putin umbrella coalition, Other Russia) as fascists and traitors. In an exhibit in the camp center, the faces of the three main leaders of Other Russia are pasted onto the bodies of prostitutes, while a separate area with dilapidated cabins and broken glass is “reserved” for its members. To drive the point home, on-site paramilitary training is conducted to prevent “destabilization” of the upcoming Duma elections in December and the presidential contest in 2008.

Given the past Nashi harassment of foreign envoys as well as of assorted domestic opposition, Putin’s critics can consider themselves well-warned.

Annals of the Horrors of Nashi

Writing in the Daily Mail, blogger Edward Lucas rips Putin’s Russia a new one over its appalling propagandization of Russia’s young people, just as Hitler did.

Remember the mammoths, say the clean-cut organisers at the youth camp’s mass wedding. “They became extinct because they did not have enough sex. That must not happen to Russia”. Obediently, couples move to a special section of dormitory tents arranged in a heart-shape and called the Love Oasis, where they can start procreating for the motherland. With its relentlessly upbeat tone, bizarre ideas and tight control, it sounds like a weird indoctrination session for a phoney religious cult. But this organisation – known as “Nashi”, meaning “Ours” [LR: A better translation would be “us Slavic Russians” — you won’t find too many dark-skinned people at Nashi’s camp, nor will you find Nashi encouraging Slavic Russians to breed with non-Slavs] – is youth movement run by Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin that has become a central part of Russian political life. Nashi’s annual camp, 200 miles outside Moscow, is attended by 10,000 uniformed youngsters and involves two weeks of lectures and physical fitness. Attendance is monitored via compulsory electronic badges and anyone who misses three events is expelled. So are drinkers; alcohol is banned. But sex is encouraged, and condoms are nowhere on sale.

Bizarrely, young women are encouraged to hand in thongs and other skimpy underwear – supposedly a cause of sterility – and given more wholesome and substantial undergarments. [LR: This is what happens in Russia, basic facts from the West get perverted in the manner of whisper-down-the-lane as they travel across the frozen tundra to reach Moscow. Tight underwear affects male potency, not female.] Twenty-five couples marry at the start of the camp’s first week and ten more at the start of the second. These mass weddings, the ultimate expression of devotion to the motherland, are legal and conducted by a civil official.

Attempting to raise Russia’s dismally low birthrate even by eccentric-seeming means might be understandable. Certainly, the country’s demographic outlook is dire. The hard-drinking, hardsmoking and disease-ridden population is set to plunge by a million a year in the next decade.

But the real aim of the youth camp – and the 100,000-strong movement behind it – is not to improve Russia’s demographic profile, but to attack democracy. Under Mr Putin, Russia is sliding into fascism, with state control of the economy, media, politics and society becoming increasingly heavy-handed. And Nashi, along with other similar youth movements, such as ‘Young Guard’, and ‘Young Russia’, is in the forefront of the charge. At the start, it was all too easy to mock. I attended an early event run by its predecessor, ‘Walking together’, in the heart of Moscow in 2000. A motley collection of youngsters were collecting ‘unpatriotic’ works of fiction for destruction. It was sinister in theory, recalling the Nazis’ book-burning in the 1930s, but it was laughable in practice. There was no sign of ordinary members of the public handing in books (the copies piled on the pavement had been brought by the organisers).

Once the television cameras had left, the event organisers admitted that they were not really volunteers, but being paid by “sponsors”. The idea that Russia’s anarchic, apathetic youth would ever be attracted into a disciplined mass movement in support of their president – what critics called a “Putinjugend”, recalling the “Hitlerjugend” (German for “Hitler Youth”) – seemed fanciful. How wrong we were. Life for young people in Russia without connections is a mixture of inadequate and corrupt education, and a choice of boring dead-end jobs. Like the Hitler Youth and the Soviet Union’s Young Pioneers, Nashi and its allied movements offer not just excitement, friendship and a sense of purpose – but a leg up in life, too. Nashi’s senior officials – known, in an eerie echo of the Soviet era, as “Commissars” – get free places at top universities. Thereafter, they can expect good jobs in politics or business – which in Russia nowadays, under the Kremlin’s crony capitalism, are increasingly the same thing.

Nashi and similar outfits are the Kremlin’s first line of defence against its greatest fear: real democracy. Like the sheep chanting “Four legs good, two legs bad” in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, they can intimidate through noise and numbers. Nashi supporters drown out protests by Russia’s feeble and divided democratic opposition and use violence to drive them off the streets. The group’s leaders insist that the only connection to officialdom is loyalty to the president. If so, they seem remarkably well-informed.

In July 2006, the British ambassador, Sir Anthony Brenton, infuriated the Kremlin by attending an opposition meeting. For months afterwards, he was noisily harassed by groups of Nashi supporters demanding that he “apologise”. With uncanny accuracy, the hooligans knew his movements in advance – a sign of official tip-offs.

Even when Nashi flagrantly breaks the law, the authorities do not intervene. After Estonia enraged Russia by moving a Soviet-era war memorial in April, Nashi led the blockade of Estonia’s Moscow embassy. It daubed the building with graffiti, blasted it with Stalin-era military music, ripped down the Estonian flag and attacked a visiting ambassador’s car. The Moscow police, who normally stamp ruthlessly on public protest, stood by.

Nashi fits perfectly into the Kremlin’s newly-minted ideology of “Sovereign democracy”. This is not the mind-numbing jargon of Marxism-Leninism, but a lightweight collection of cliches and slogans promoting Russia’s supposed unique political and spiritual culture. It is strongly reminiscent of the Tsarist era slogan: “Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationality”. The similarities to both the Soviet and Tsarist eras are striking. Communist ideologues once spent much of their time explaining why their party deserved its monopoly of power, even though the promised utopia seemed indefinitely delayed. Today, the Kremlin’s ideology chief Vladislav Surkov is trying to explain why questioning the crooks and spooks who run Russia is not just mistaken, but treacherous.

Yet, by comparison with other outfits, Nashi looks relatively civilised. Its racism and prejudice is implied, but not trumpeted. Other pro-Kremlin youth groups are hounding gays and foreigners off the streets of Moscow. Mestnye [The Locals] recently distributed leaflets urging Muscovites to boycott non-Russian cab drivers. These showed a young blonde Russian refusing a ride from a swarthy, beetle-browed taxi driver, under the slogan: “We’re not going the same way.” Such unofficial xenophobia matches the official stance. On April 1, a decree explicitly backed by Mr Putin banned foreigners from trading in Russia’s retail markets. By some estimates, 12m people are working illegally in Russia.

Those who hoped that Russia’s first post-totalitarian generation would be liberal, have been dissapointed. Although explicit support for extremist and racist groups is in the low single figures, support for racist sentiments is mushrooming. Slogans such as “Russia for the Russians” now attract the support of half of the population. Echoing Kremlin propaganda, Nashi denounced Estonians as “fascist”, for daring to say that they find Nazi and Soviet memorials equally repugnant. But, in truth, it is in Russia that fascism is all too evident. The Kremlin sees no role for a democratic opposition, denouncing its leaders as stooges and traitors. Sadly, most Russians agree: a recent poll showed that a majority believed that opposition parties should not be allowed to take power.

Just as the Nazis in 1930s rewrote Germany’s history, the Putin Kremlin is rewriting Russia’s. It has rehabilitated Stalin, the greatest mass-murderer of the 20th century. And it is demonising Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first democratically-elected president. That he destroyed totalitarianism is ignored. Instead, he is denounced for his “weak” pro-Western policies. While distorting its own history, the Kremlin denounces other countries. Mr Putin was quick to blame Britain’s “colonial mentality” for our government’s request that Russia try to find a legal means of extraditing Andrei Lugovoi, the prime suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

Yet the truth is that Britain, like most Western countries, flagellates itself for the crimes of the past. Indeed, British schoolchildren rarely learn anything positive about their country’s empire. And, if Mr Putin has his way, Russian pupils will learn nothing bad about the Soviet empire, which was far bloodier, more brutal – and more recent. A new guide for history teachers – explicitly endorsed by Mr Putin – brushes off Stalin’s crimes. It describes him as “the most successful leader of the USSR”. But it skates over the colossal human cost – 25m people were shot and starved in the cause of communism.

“Political repression was used to mobilise not only rank-and-file citizens but also the ruling elite,” it says. In other words, Stalin wanted to make the country strong, so he may have been a bit harsh at times. At any time since the collapse of Soviet totalitarianism in the late 1980s, that would have seemed a nauseating whitewash. Now, it is treated as bald historical fact.

If Stalin made mistakes, so what? Lots of people make mistakes.

“Problematic pages in our history exist,” Mr Putin said last week. But: “we have less than some countries. And ours are not as terrible as those of some others.” He compared the Great Terror of 1937, when 700,000 people were murdered in a purge by Stalin’s secret police, to the atom bomb on Hiroshima. The comparison is preposterous. A strong argument can be made that by ending the war quickly, the atom bombs saved countless lives. Franklin D Roosevelt and Harry Truman may have failed to realise that nuclear weapons would one day endanger humanity’s survival. But, unlike Stalin, they were not genocidal maniacs.

As the new cold war deepens, Mr Putin echoes, consciously or unconsciously, the favourite weapon of Soviet propagandists in the last one. Asked about Afghanistan, they would cite Vietnam. Castigated for the plight of Soviet Jews, they would complain with treacly sincerity about discrimination against American blacks. Every blot on the Soviet record was matched by something, real or imagined, that the West had done. But the contrasts even then were absurd. When the American administration blundered into Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of people protested in the heart of Washington. When eight extraordinarily brave Soviet dissidents tried to demonstrate in Red Square against the invasion of Czechoslovakia, in 1968, they were instantly arrested and spent many years in labour camps.

For the east European countries with first-hand experience of Stalinist terror, the Kremlin’s rewriting of history could hardly be more scary. Not only does Russia see no reason to apologise for their suffering under Kremlin rule, it now sees the collapse of communism not as a time of liberation, but as an era of pitiable weakness.

Russia barely commemorates even the damage it did to itself, let alone the appalling suffering inflicted on other people. Nashi is both a symptom of the way Russia is going – and a means of entrenching the drift to fascism. Terrifyingly, the revived Soviet view of history is now widely held in Russia. A poll this week of Russian teenagers showed that a majority believe that Stalin did more good things than bad. If tens of thousands of uniformed German youngsters were marching across Germany in support of an authoritarian Führer, baiting foreigners and praising Hitler, alarm bells would be jangling all across Europe. So why aren’t they ringing about Nashi?

The Horror of Nashi Unbound

Imagine that U.S. President George Bush creates a youth cult organization and funds it to the tune of millions of dollars. It’s sole purpose is to fanatically heap praise upon his government and attack his rivals. Imagine they organize a summer camp, and at the camp they erect huge posters of John Kerry and Ralph Nader dressed as female prostitutes — just like the ones you see at left so depicting Mikhail Kasyanov and Garry Kasparov and erected by “President” Putin’s youth cult Nashi in Tver recently. What do you think the world would say about Bush’s actions? Hopefully, it will say the same about Putin. The Moscow Times reports:

One of the most eye-catching displays at this year’s Nashi summer camp shows three opposition politicians dressed as prostitutes. Activists from the pro-Kremlin youth movement stopped to chuckle at the display, topped with the words “Red-Light District” and featuring larger-than-life images of three scantily clad floozies, earlier this week. The funny part was that the pictures had been doctored to show the faces of former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, former chess champion Garry Kasparov and writer Eduard Limonov, founder of the banned National Bolshevik Party. “These are the people who are selling out Russia,” clarified Yelena Yefremova, a Nashi activist who had been assigned as a guide to a reporter and photographer during a daylong tour of the camp, located about 350 kilometers northwest of Moscow.

Nashi’s annual retreat on the shores of Lake Seliger is larger than ever — with 10,000 activists in attendance compared with 5,000 last year and 3,000 two years ago — and the campgrounds are abuzz with activity as Nashi prepares for State Duma elections in December and the presidential vote in March. But just as the retreat kicked off Monday, the future of Nashi became uncertain with the announcement that its leader, Vasily Yakemenko, was leaving. Yakemenko told reporters Tuesday that he would step down after the presidential election to make way for a new leader, who is to be selected in a vote at the end of next week. “I’m too old to be working in youth politics, to be leading a youth movement,” said Yakemenko, 36. Asked what he planned to do after leaving Nashi, he said cryptically, “Wherever I can serve my country with maximum effectiveness.”

Nashi, which means Ours, [LR: Actually, it means “us Slavic Russians”] was founded in 2005 and immediately made itself felt by organizing a rally of 50,000 students on Leninsky Prospekt to honor the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. The organization is unwavering in its support of President Vladimir Putin and frequently condemns fascism and racism. But its definition of “fascist” includes a number of political leaders critical of Putin, including Kasyanov, Kasparov and Limonov — who have led a series of anti-Kremlin street protests as part of the Other Russia coalition — and liberal parties such as Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces.

Earlier this year, Nashi activists mounted a noisy demonstration outside the Estonian Embassy and stormed a news conference being given by Estonian Ambassador Marina Kaljurand with demands that Tallinn apologize for its controversial decision to move a Soviet-era World War II memorial. Nashi activists were also accused of harassing British Ambassador Anthony Brenton after he met with leaders of The Other Russia last year. Yakemenko said Tuesday that Nashi would not stage any anti-British protests in retaliation for this week’s expulsion of four Russian diplomats from London. The leaders of Nashi, whose financing is opaque, deny that they receive Kremlin funding. But the organization has been closely linked to Vladislav Surkov, deputy head of the presidential administration. Many believe that Nashi was set up as a response to Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004, in which youth-led street protests helped give the presidency to pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko.

Today, even though Putin has approval ratings of around 70 percent — and despite the fact that his opponents in The Other Russia are widely seen as a marginal political force with little chance of winning the election — Nashi activists still express fear that an Orange Revolution-style uprising could happen in Russia. “One of our main goals is to resist any attempts to conduct an Orange Revolution in Russia,” Dmitry Baranovsky, the coordinator of Nashi’s elections division, said at the Seliger campground. Baranovsky was standing outside a large tent where several dozen activists were listening to a lecture on exit polls and election procedures. Nashi is planning to enlist 60,000 people to conduct nationwide exit polls during State Duma and presidential elections, Baranovsky said. Nashi activists believe that Yushchenko was able to come back from his first-round defeat in the Ukrainian presidential election thanks to Western-funded exit polls that showed he was the true victor, rather than pro-Russian candidate Viktor Yanukovych. “I’m sure the West will try to destabilize the elections,” Nikolai Slepnyov, a Nashi activist from Tula, said near his campsite. As Slepnyov spoke, a large digital clock behind him showed the hours, minutes and seconds left until the presidential election — a project initiated by the Tula delegation to help raise voter awareness.

In a separate project, the Tula delegation brought pryaniki, or gingerbread cakes, branded with the Nashi logo. Humor is a potent weapon in political activism, said Tamara Pavlova, an activist from Kursk who is the chief playwright in a Nashi-sponsored puppet theater that plans to tour the country during the electoral campaign. Pavlova showed off her actors — puppets crafted to look like opposition figures, including former presidential candidate Irina Khakamada and self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky — and shared some details about one of her plays. “The main subject of the play is the internal opposition, as well as Russia’s enemies abroad,” she said, adding that the play had a happy ending, since the foes of Russia would be foiled in the end.

Nashi fosters an entrepreneurial spirit among activists, said Yefremova, the guide. “You present your ideas, and if Vasily Yakemenko sees that it’s a good project, he’ll make sure you get funding,” she said. Not all the projects on display at Lake Seliger were related to politics. In the tent run by Nashi’s career division, activists filled out forms to apply for internships. Nashi has placed interns in the Duma, ministries and state-owned companies, including 30 at Gazprom, said Artyom Semyonov, coordinator of the division. Other projects were connected to charity. Signs pointing to a bloodmobile encouraged Nashi activists to donate blood, while one display offered information about the plight of children in orphanages.

Meanwhile, in a project inspired by the national demographic crisis, 30 Nashi couples were to tie the knot in a mass wedding ceremony Wednesday. A special campsite of red tents was set up for the wedding night. In stark contrast to Russian tradition, no alcohol would be allowed, since Nashi activists are forbidden from drinking at Lake Seliger. The campers must follow a strict regime where everyone rises at 8 a.m. and participates in a morning exercise — running for men, aerobics for women — to the sound of thumping techno music and, at least on Tuesday, to Yakemenko shouting “Go! Go! Go!” through a loudspeaker. [LR: Hmmmm . . . that sounds strangely familiar . . . ]

Yakemenko seems to be widely admired by the movement’s activists. The words “Vasya, I love you!” were written with masking tape on the side of one tent. Now that Yakemenko has announced he is leaving, however, it is unclear what awaits Nashi after it executes its mission in the upcoming elections. But Yefremova, a two-year Nashi veteran who has earned the title of “commissar,” had a simple answer. “He’s leaving to make way for us,” she said.

An Uncivilized Country, Part VI: They Brainwash Their Children

Michael Hammerschlag, a journalist who lived in Russia from 1991 to 1994, reports on the horrors of the Nashi youth cult, the neo-Soviet komsomol, for the International Herald Tribune:

It’s official. To be patriotic in Russia is to be a fan of Putin, specifically a Putin Youth. During the celebration on June 12th of Independence Day (Russia from the Soviet Union in 1990), “the only groups allowed onto Red Square were the youth group Nashi” – which means “ours” – “the Young Guard and Young Russia,” according to Sergei, a Nashi supporter. Tickets were carefully dispensed only to the faithful near the Krasny Ploshad Metro from a truck, I finally discovered after questioning a dozen reluctant people holding the tickets.

The 120,000-odd Putin Youth members are perhaps the most creepy demonstration of Putin’s “Back to the Future” cult of personality – youth groups created, supported, and used by the Kremlin to harass, bully and intimidate opponents and critics. “The idea was to create an ideology based on a total devotion to the president and his course,” says a Kremlin adviser, Sergei Markov. Obsessed by the color revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia, the Kremlin decided to create their own loyal youth brigades.

During the campaign against Estonia in the most recent enemy-of-the-month club (Lithuania, Georgia, Poland, et al) for the heinous crime of moving a statue and some Soviet graves, the Nashi “kids” (who are 17 to 25 years old) so terrorized the Estonian Embassy that the ambassador and some istaff members fled the country. In Estonia itself, Russia-endorsed protests killed one and injured 99. While mild peaceful protests were brutally crushed by riot police, the violent Nashi youth were invited into the Kremlin to talk to Putin’s anointed successor, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, about their methods, an indication of the firm government backing they receive. “They have their kitchens, toilets, electricity, buses. . . . It is clear that their actions are very well organized, financed and orchestrated,” said the Estonian ambassador, Marina Kaljurand.

A nationwide cellphone campaign – “call President Putin with a message of support” – was estimated to cost many millions of dollars.

On Red Square, the crowd broke down into five types: the missionaries – usually young girls, with scrubbed looks and religious zeal, doing good works for which they expected rewards; the provincials – the slightly rough-hewn youth who had glommed onto the orgs for a trip to the capital or some nationalistic sentiment; the suburbans, average-looking kids who wanted to be part of something larger; the professionals – the youth who realize in today’s Russia, United/Just Russia and Putin are the only game in town (in the old days they would belong to the Komsomol); and the goons – sharp-faced thugs who constantly scanned the crowd hoping for some trouble.

Once one penetrated the ticket and security entrance and the outside rows of metal detectors, the 50 square meter concert stage set up opposite Lenin’s Tomb was ringed with a line of brown suited soldiers, with only one narrow entrance. It was claustrophobic and unpleasant. They were there, of course, in the secured, ticketed, metal-detectored area to protect the precious Putin Youth from some imaginary foreign figment that might invisibly penetrate the area.

There is something deeply contemptible about propagandizing and poisoning the minds of the young, even more so when they are carelessly used as government shock troops to intimidate and bully critics. The government is now eating the seed corn of young minds for some cheap political advantage, a tactic of all dictatorships, which try to ensure their permanence by instilling robotic loyalty in the young, and Russia will pay for it for many years. The Putin Youth get to be punks, terrorizing foreigners and “traitors” with near complete impunity (a few $20 fines for attacking an ambassador), and receive training, free college and professional connections that can give them high-powered careers – a win-win situation, from their point of view.

Nashi also does positive campaigns to help children, poor and disabled, although Sergei scoffed at that. There is a feral intensity in their training and mission statements: energy, dominance, patriotism, optimism and passion mix in a wildly uneven stew that can be ugly and corrosive, but also occasionally admirable.

During an antigovernment rally on April 14th in Pushkinskaya Square, a few people cheered as kids on the roof of Izvestia threw off leaflets, but the cheers choked in their throats as they realized that the “protesters” were actually reactionary Young Guards tossing leaflets of derision and contempt. The kids were now the enemy.

While their methods are still mostly street theater, it’s probably only a matter of time before they graduate to more serious violence. Indeed, their recruiting boot camps feature paramilitary training to fight against fascists (which includes Estonia, Yabloko or anyone that has ever criticized Putin).

Another deeply disturbing government initiative is labeling critics “extremists” and criminals, another tactic of all serious totalitarian states. When you can criminalize criticism of the government, there is nothing you can’t get away with, and all remaining freedoms are hanging by a thread.


On Nashi’s Trail: Special Investigative Feature

La Russophobe‘s translator has discovered the following page on the Nashi website, apparently a wholly fraudulent exercise designed to drum up support by illicit means (or, even worse, a blatantly corrupt propaganda exercise of the Kremlin — it’s hard to say what’s more horrifying, that Nashi can do what it promises, or that it can’t). The translator notes that she/he was inspired to do so by a comment to his last post (also about Nashi) drawing parallels in organizational structure between Nashi and the Hitlerjugend; the analysis much impressed him and was appreciated.

NASHI’s School of Project Management

Beginning April 15 in all regions of the first zone.

Inquire at the Nashi headquarters in your city.

[TN: The first zone, or “poyas”, generally refers to the area with 15 kilometers of the Moscow beltway.]

Attention!!!

An extension to June 11 has been given for admission to a training program for project management specialists. Participation in this six-month program is a unique opportunity to enter the profession of the 21st century – Project Manager. The modernization and development of our economy depends on having specialists capable of precise planning and competent management to achieve assigned goals! Salaries for certified specialists currently start at 45,000 rubles, underscoring the importance of this line of work for the economy.

Stages of training:

* Middle of June 2007: First stage of training will take place in a suburb of Moscow.

* June – July 2007: Internship conducting training in the regions of central Russia.

* July 19-23: Second stage of training at the All-Russian Youth Forum “Seliger 2007”.

* September: Third stage of training.

* September – December: Internship working on actual projects in Russian companies and organizations.

* December: International Project Management Association (IPMA) certification.

* January: Placement in consulting and project management companies.

Participants will be occupied 10-15 days per month.

Requirements for participation:

* Be an activist in the Movement, or a very strong supporter.

* Possession of an advanced degree (preference is given to graduate students), or be in at least the fifth year of study.

* Be in training for certification and long-term employment in the field of Project Management.

* Apply for the program at the following address: spm@ckms.ru.

* Complete the following assignment:

– Define the terms “project” and “life cycle of a project”.

– Develop your own or describe a project from your own experience (in free form, ½ to 2 pages in length), preferably in connection with the Movement.

– Plan and document the project in MSProject (Gant diagram, resources)

* Send the project summary and MSProject 2003 working files by June 11.

For additional information call:
89267366319 Tatyana Golubeva

89268110731 Ilya Kostunov

[TN: In the previous advertisement of this program, the deadline was set for June 1, and the first phase of training ran June 2-6. A few observations: 1) Since this is billed as an “extension of application deadline” rather than a second running of the first phase of training, it seems likely the course was undersubscribed; 2) The first advertisement provided only one day between the application deadline and the start of the first phase of the course, making the “competitive” aspect of this course doubtful… perhaps sensing this problem, the “extension” version was vague about the start of the course; 3) There is no mention of a stipend of any sort; 3) If the program is not truly competitive, and is unpaid, it would seem to be an appeal for grad students to provide six months of free labor working as Nashi agitators; 4) Any bets on what percentage of graduates will actually be placed in “consulting and project management companies”?}

La Russophobe has disovered another page of interest, this time from one of the local Nashi websites that have sprouted like microbes across the country:


22 апреля 2007 года

«Разборки» по-взрослому.

НАШИ армейцы выполнили нормативы по разборке и сборке автомата системы Калашникова. Теперь парни готовы перейти на следующий этап подготовки к службе в армии – боевым стрельбам. Освоить устройство оружия им помогали отслужившие в вооруженных силах старшие товарищи. Сержант Дмитрий Багаев продемонстрировал метод разборки автомата за четыре секунды. По словам старшего сержанта Алексея Банникова, в боевых условиях, бывает, и секунда спасает жизнь.

TRANSLATION (from the Nashi local organization in the city of Tver’s websiteNB, this is LR staff work, our professional translators can in no way be blamed for errors — corrections gladly accepted!):

Our Army Soldiers passed their test in dismantling and assembling Kalashnikov automatic weapons. Now, our guys ready for the next phase of their training to the army – military use of firearms. Assisting them will be senior weapons experts from the armed services. Shown in the photograph, Sergeant Dmitry Bagaev demonstrated the best method for disassembling a machine in less than four seconds. According to Master Sergeant Alexey Bannikov, in combat conditions it can happen that even a second can save a life.

LR: Seconds also cost lives, apparently. It seems Nashi is going to “manage” things, one way or another . . .

On Nashi’s Trail: Special Investigative Feature

La Russophobe‘s translator has discovered the following page on the Nashi website, apparently a wholly fraudulent exercise designed to drum up support by illicit means (or, even worse, a blatantly corrupt propaganda exercise of the Kremlin — it’s hard to say what’s more horrifying, that Nashi can do what it promises, or that it can’t). The translator notes that she/he was inspired to do so by a comment to his last post (also about Nashi) drawing parallels in organizational structure between Nashi and the Hitlerjugend; the analysis much impressed him and was appreciated.

NASHI’s School of Project Management

Beginning April 15 in all regions of the first zone.

Inquire at the Nashi headquarters in your city.

[TN: The first zone, or “poyas”, generally refers to the area with 15 kilometers of the Moscow beltway.]

Attention!!!

An extension to June 11 has been given for admission to a training program for project management specialists. Participation in this six-month program is a unique opportunity to enter the profession of the 21st century – Project Manager. The modernization and development of our economy depends on having specialists capable of precise planning and competent management to achieve assigned goals! Salaries for certified specialists currently start at 45,000 rubles, underscoring the importance of this line of work for the economy.

Stages of training:

* Middle of June 2007: First stage of training will take place in a suburb of Moscow.

* June – July 2007: Internship conducting training in the regions of central Russia.

* July 19-23: Second stage of training at the All-Russian Youth Forum “Seliger 2007”.

* September: Third stage of training.

* September – December: Internship working on actual projects in Russian companies and organizations.

* December: International Project Management Association (IPMA) certification.

* January: Placement in consulting and project management companies.

Participants will be occupied 10-15 days per month.

Requirements for participation:

* Be an activist in the Movement, or a very strong supporter.

* Possession of an advanced degree (preference is given to graduate students), or be in at least the fifth year of study.

* Be in training for certification and long-term employment in the field of Project Management.

* Apply for the program at the following address: spm@ckms.ru.

* Complete the following assignment:

– Define the terms “project” and “life cycle of a project”.

– Develop your own or describe a project from your own experience (in free form, ½ to 2 pages in length), preferably in connection with the Movement.

– Plan and document the project in MSProject (Gant diagram, resources)

* Send the project summary and MSProject 2003 working files by June 11.

For additional information call:
89267366319 Tatyana Golubeva

89268110731 Ilya Kostunov

[TN: In the previous advertisement of this program, the deadline was set for June 1, and the first phase of training ran June 2-6. A few observations: 1) Since this is billed as an “extension of application deadline” rather than a second running of the first phase of training, it seems likely the course was undersubscribed; 2) The first advertisement provided only one day between the application deadline and the start of the first phase of the course, making the “competitive” aspect of this course doubtful… perhaps sensing this problem, the “extension” version was vague about the start of the course; 3) There is no mention of a stipend of any sort; 3) If the program is not truly competitive, and is unpaid, it would seem to be an appeal for grad students to provide six months of free labor working as Nashi agitators; 4) Any bets on what percentage of graduates will actually be placed in “consulting and project management companies”?}

La Russophobe has disovered another page of interest, this time from one of the local Nashi websites that have sprouted like microbes across the country:


22 апреля 2007 года

«Разборки» по-взрослому.

НАШИ армейцы выполнили нормативы по разборке и сборке автомата системы Калашникова. Теперь парни готовы перейти на следующий этап подготовки к службе в армии – боевым стрельбам. Освоить устройство оружия им помогали отслужившие в вооруженных силах старшие товарищи. Сержант Дмитрий Багаев продемонстрировал метод разборки автомата за четыре секунды. По словам старшего сержанта Алексея Банникова, в боевых условиях, бывает, и секунда спасает жизнь.

TRANSLATION (from the Nashi local organization in the city of Tver’s websiteNB, this is LR staff work, our professional translators can in no way be blamed for errors — corrections gladly accepted!):

Our Army Soldiers passed their test in dismantling and assembling Kalashnikov automatic weapons. Now, our guys ready for the next phase of their training to the army – military use of firearms. Assisting them will be senior weapons experts from the armed services. Shown in the photograph, Sergeant Dmitry Bagaev demonstrated the best method for disassembling a machine in less than four seconds. According to Master Sergeant Alexey Bannikov, in combat conditions it can happen that even a second can save a life.

LR: Seconds also cost lives, apparently. It seems Nashi is going to “manage” things, one way or another . . .

On Nashi’s Trail: Special Investigative Feature

La Russophobe‘s translator has discovered the following page on the Nashi website, apparently a wholly fraudulent exercise designed to drum up support by illicit means (or, even worse, a blatantly corrupt propaganda exercise of the Kremlin — it’s hard to say what’s more horrifying, that Nashi can do what it promises, or that it can’t). The translator notes that she/he was inspired to do so by a comment to his last post (also about Nashi) drawing parallels in organizational structure between Nashi and the Hitlerjugend; the analysis much impressed him and was appreciated.

NASHI’s School of Project Management

Beginning April 15 in all regions of the first zone.

Inquire at the Nashi headquarters in your city.

[TN: The first zone, or “poyas”, generally refers to the area with 15 kilometers of the Moscow beltway.]

Attention!!!

An extension to June 11 has been given for admission to a training program for project management specialists. Participation in this six-month program is a unique opportunity to enter the profession of the 21st century – Project Manager. The modernization and development of our economy depends on having specialists capable of precise planning and competent management to achieve assigned goals! Salaries for certified specialists currently start at 45,000 rubles, underscoring the importance of this line of work for the economy.

Stages of training:

* Middle of June 2007: First stage of training will take place in a suburb of Moscow.

* June – July 2007: Internship conducting training in the regions of central Russia.

* July 19-23: Second stage of training at the All-Russian Youth Forum “Seliger 2007”.

* September: Third stage of training.

* September – December: Internship working on actual projects in Russian companies and organizations.

* December: International Project Management Association (IPMA) certification.

* January: Placement in consulting and project management companies.

Participants will be occupied 10-15 days per month.

Requirements for participation:

* Be an activist in the Movement, or a very strong supporter.

* Possession of an advanced degree (preference is given to graduate students), or be in at least the fifth year of study.

* Be in training for certification and long-term employment in the field of Project Management.

* Apply for the program at the following address: spm@ckms.ru.

* Complete the following assignment:

– Define the terms “project” and “life cycle of a project”.

– Develop your own or describe a project from your own experience (in free form, ½ to 2 pages in length), preferably in connection with the Movement.

– Plan and document the project in MSProject (Gant diagram, resources)

* Send the project summary and MSProject 2003 working files by June 11.

For additional information call:
89267366319 Tatyana Golubeva

89268110731 Ilya Kostunov

[TN: In the previous advertisement of this program, the deadline was set for June 1, and the first phase of training ran June 2-6. A few observations: 1) Since this is billed as an “extension of application deadline” rather than a second running of the first phase of training, it seems likely the course was undersubscribed; 2) The first advertisement provided only one day between the application deadline and the start of the first phase of the course, making the “competitive” aspect of this course doubtful… perhaps sensing this problem, the “extension” version was vague about the start of the course; 3) There is no mention of a stipend of any sort; 3) If the program is not truly competitive, and is unpaid, it would seem to be an appeal for grad students to provide six months of free labor working as Nashi agitators; 4) Any bets on what percentage of graduates will actually be placed in “consulting and project management companies”?}

La Russophobe has disovered another page of interest, this time from one of the local Nashi websites that have sprouted like microbes across the country:


22 апреля 2007 года

«Разборки» по-взрослому.

НАШИ армейцы выполнили нормативы по разборке и сборке автомата системы Калашникова. Теперь парни готовы перейти на следующий этап подготовки к службе в армии – боевым стрельбам. Освоить устройство оружия им помогали отслужившие в вооруженных силах старшие товарищи. Сержант Дмитрий Багаев продемонстрировал метод разборки автомата за четыре секунды. По словам старшего сержанта Алексея Банникова, в боевых условиях, бывает, и секунда спасает жизнь.

TRANSLATION (from the Nashi local organization in the city of Tver’s websiteNB, this is LR staff work, our professional translators can in no way be blamed for errors — corrections gladly accepted!):

Our Army Soldiers passed their test in dismantling and assembling Kalashnikov automatic weapons. Now, our guys ready for the next phase of their training to the army – military use of firearms. Assisting them will be senior weapons experts from the armed services. Shown in the photograph, Sergeant Dmitry Bagaev demonstrated the best method for disassembling a machine in less than four seconds. According to Master Sergeant Alexey Bannikov, in combat conditions it can happen that even a second can save a life.

LR: Seconds also cost lives, apparently. It seems Nashi is going to “manage” things, one way or another . . .

On Nashi’s Trail: Special Investigative Feature

La Russophobe‘s translator has discovered the following page on the Nashi website, apparently a wholly fraudulent exercise designed to drum up support by illicit means (or, even worse, a blatantly corrupt propaganda exercise of the Kremlin — it’s hard to say what’s more horrifying, that Nashi can do what it promises, or that it can’t). The translator notes that she/he was inspired to do so by a comment to his last post (also about Nashi) drawing parallels in organizational structure between Nashi and the Hitlerjugend; the analysis much impressed him and was appreciated.

NASHI’s School of Project Management

Beginning April 15 in all regions of the first zone.

Inquire at the Nashi headquarters in your city.

[TN: The first zone, or “poyas”, generally refers to the area with 15 kilometers of the Moscow beltway.]

Attention!!!

An extension to June 11 has been given for admission to a training program for project management specialists. Participation in this six-month program is a unique opportunity to enter the profession of the 21st century – Project Manager. The modernization and development of our economy depends on having specialists capable of precise planning and competent management to achieve assigned goals! Salaries for certified specialists currently start at 45,000 rubles, underscoring the importance of this line of work for the economy.

Stages of training:

* Middle of June 2007: First stage of training will take place in a suburb of Moscow.

* June – July 2007: Internship conducting training in the regions of central Russia.

* July 19-23: Second stage of training at the All-Russian Youth Forum “Seliger 2007”.

* September: Third stage of training.

* September – December: Internship working on actual projects in Russian companies and organizations.

* December: International Project Management Association (IPMA) certification.

* January: Placement in consulting and project management companies.

Participants will be occupied 10-15 days per month.

Requirements for participation:

* Be an activist in the Movement, or a very strong supporter.

* Possession of an advanced degree (preference is given to graduate students), or be in at least the fifth year of study.

* Be in training for certification and long-term employment in the field of Project Management.

* Apply for the program at the following address: spm@ckms.ru.

* Complete the following assignment:

– Define the terms “project” and “life cycle of a project”.

– Develop your own or describe a project from your own experience (in free form, ½ to 2 pages in length), preferably in connection with the Movement.

– Plan and document the project in MSProject (Gant diagram, resources)

* Send the project summary and MSProject 2003 working files by June 11.

For additional information call:
89267366319 Tatyana Golubeva

89268110731 Ilya Kostunov

[TN: In the previous advertisement of this program, the deadline was set for June 1, and the first phase of training ran June 2-6. A few observations: 1) Since this is billed as an “extension of application deadline” rather than a second running of the first phase of training, it seems likely the course was undersubscribed; 2) The first advertisement provided only one day between the application deadline and the start of the first phase of the course, making the “competitive” aspect of this course doubtful… perhaps sensing this problem, the “extension” version was vague about the start of the course; 3) There is no mention of a stipend of any sort; 3) If the program is not truly competitive, and is unpaid, it would seem to be an appeal for grad students to provide six months of free labor working as Nashi agitators; 4) Any bets on what percentage of graduates will actually be placed in “consulting and project management companies”?}

La Russophobe has disovered another page of interest, this time from one of the local Nashi websites that have sprouted like microbes across the country:


22 апреля 2007 года

«Разборки» по-взрослому.

НАШИ армейцы выполнили нормативы по разборке и сборке автомата системы Калашникова. Теперь парни готовы перейти на следующий этап подготовки к службе в армии – боевым стрельбам. Освоить устройство оружия им помогали отслужившие в вооруженных силах старшие товарищи. Сержант Дмитрий Багаев продемонстрировал метод разборки автомата за четыре секунды. По словам старшего сержанта Алексея Банникова, в боевых условиях, бывает, и секунда спасает жизнь.

TRANSLATION (from the Nashi local organization in the city of Tver’s websiteNB, this is LR staff work, our professional translators can in no way be blamed for errors — corrections gladly accepted!):

Our Army Soldiers passed their test in dismantling and assembling Kalashnikov automatic weapons. Now, our guys ready for the next phase of their training to the army – military use of firearms. Assisting them will be senior weapons experts from the armed services. Shown in the photograph, Sergeant Dmitry Bagaev demonstrated the best method for disassembling a machine in less than four seconds. According to Master Sergeant Alexey Bannikov, in combat conditions it can happen that even a second can save a life.

LR: Seconds also cost lives, apparently. It seems Nashi is going to “manage” things, one way or another . . .

On Nashi’s Trail: Special Investigative Feature

La Russophobe‘s translator has discovered the following page on the Nashi website, apparently a wholly fraudulent exercise designed to drum up support by illicit means (or, even worse, a blatantly corrupt propaganda exercise of the Kremlin — it’s hard to say what’s more horrifying, that Nashi can do what it promises, or that it can’t). The translator notes that she/he was inspired to do so by a comment to his last post (also about Nashi) drawing parallels in organizational structure between Nashi and the Hitlerjugend; the analysis much impressed him and was appreciated.

NASHI’s School of Project Management

Beginning April 15 in all regions of the first zone.

Inquire at the Nashi headquarters in your city.

[TN: The first zone, or “poyas”, generally refers to the area with 15 kilometers of the Moscow beltway.]

Attention!!!

An extension to June 11 has been given for admission to a training program for project management specialists. Participation in this six-month program is a unique opportunity to enter the profession of the 21st century – Project Manager. The modernization and development of our economy depends on having specialists capable of precise planning and competent management to achieve assigned goals! Salaries for certified specialists currently start at 45,000 rubles, underscoring the importance of this line of work for the economy.

Stages of training:

* Middle of June 2007: First stage of training will take place in a suburb of Moscow.

* June – July 2007: Internship conducting training in the regions of central Russia.

* July 19-23: Second stage of training at the All-Russian Youth Forum “Seliger 2007”.

* September: Third stage of training.

* September – December: Internship working on actual projects in Russian companies and organizations.

* December: International Project Management Association (IPMA) certification.

* January: Placement in consulting and project management companies.

Participants will be occupied 10-15 days per month.

Requirements for participation:

* Be an activist in the Movement, or a very strong supporter.

* Possession of an advanced degree (preference is given to graduate students), or be in at least the fifth year of study.

* Be in training for certification and long-term employment in the field of Project Management.

* Apply for the program at the following address: spm@ckms.ru.

* Complete the following assignment:

– Define the terms “project” and “life cycle of a project”.

– Develop your own or describe a project from your own experience (in free form, ½ to 2 pages in length), preferably in connection with the Movement.

– Plan and document the project in MSProject (Gant diagram, resources)

* Send the project summary and MSProject 2003 working files by June 11.

For additional information call:
89267366319 Tatyana Golubeva

89268110731 Ilya Kostunov

[TN: In the previous advertisement of this program, the deadline was set for June 1, and the first phase of training ran June 2-6. A few observations: 1) Since this is billed as an “extension of application deadline” rather than a second running of the first phase of training, it seems likely the course was undersubscribed; 2) The first advertisement provided only one day between the application deadline and the start of the first phase of the course, making the “competitive” aspect of this course doubtful… perhaps sensing this problem, the “extension” version was vague about the start of the course; 3) There is no mention of a stipend of any sort; 3) If the program is not truly competitive, and is unpaid, it would seem to be an appeal for grad students to provide six months of free labor working as Nashi agitators; 4) Any bets on what percentage of graduates will actually be placed in “consulting and project management companies”?}

La Russophobe has disovered another page of interest, this time from one of the local Nashi websites that have sprouted like microbes across the country:


22 апреля 2007 года

«Разборки» по-взрослому.

НАШИ армейцы выполнили нормативы по разборке и сборке автомата системы Калашникова. Теперь парни готовы перейти на следующий этап подготовки к службе в армии – боевым стрельбам. Освоить устройство оружия им помогали отслужившие в вооруженных силах старшие товарищи. Сержант Дмитрий Багаев продемонстрировал метод разборки автомата за четыре секунды. По словам старшего сержанта Алексея Банникова, в боевых условиях, бывает, и секунда спасает жизнь.

TRANSLATION (from the Nashi local organization in the city of Tver’s websiteNB, this is LR staff work, our professional translators can in no way be blamed for errors — corrections gladly accepted!):

Our Army Soldiers passed their test in dismantling and assembling Kalashnikov automatic weapons. Now, our guys ready for the next phase of their training to the army – military use of firearms. Assisting them will be senior weapons experts from the armed services. Shown in the photograph, Sergeant Dmitry Bagaev demonstrated the best method for disassembling a machine in less than four seconds. According to Master Sergeant Alexey Bannikov, in combat conditions it can happen that even a second can save a life.

LR: Seconds also cost lives, apparently. It seems Nashi is going to “manage” things, one way or another . . .

Annals of Russian Youth Apathy: Nashi’s Achilles Heel?

Ordinarly, La Russophbe would not be filled with delight to learn of a new study showing that young Russians couldn’t care less about politics. However, there may be a silver lining in this news, in that at least it shows the Nashi youth cult is an abysmal (and classically Russian) failure, having giving rise to no increase in political interest whatsoever. Indeed, it may well be that Russia’s only protection from total neo-Soviet ruin is the ignorance and apathy of Russian y young people. On the other hand, this was undoubtedly true in the time of Stalin as well at least to some extent, and this probably gave rise to the need for draconian violance to force the slackers into line. The Moscow Times reports:

Young Russians today are more materialistic and less political than any other generation before them, according to a study released Monday. The study, conducted by the Sociology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, indicated that half of all young people have no interest in politics. It also found that many young people know nothing about Young Guard, Nashi and the other youth organizations that have made national and international headlines in recent months.

A total of 49 percent of the young respondents expressed no interest in politics whatsoever, a sharp increase from 33 percent in a similar study in 1997, said Mikhail Gorshkov, director of the Sociology Institute.

Gorshkov blamed the entertainment industry for the growing apathy. “It is wielding a much greater emotional influence,” he said at a presentation of the study. He said the number of young people taking an active interest in politics (14 percent) and participating in politics (about 2 percent) have remained relatively stable over the past decade.

The study also found that youth movements are not quite as popular as might have been believed. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they did not know any of the 16 movements mentioned by researchers, while 31 percent said they did not know any youth movements at all.

Of the 16 groups mentioned, United Russia’s youth group, Young Guard, received the highest level of support, at 11.9 percent, followed by another pro-Kremlin group, Nashi, at 6.3 percent. None of the remaining 14 movements got more than 3 percent. A leading member of Young Guard, Nadezhda Orlova, said she was pleased with the findings. “Not everybody has to be interested in politics,” she said, calling 11.9 percent a good result. The study found widespread apathy about elections, with 27 percent refusing to commit to a political party and 22 percent saying they did not vote. Asked about their preference for the presidential election in 2008, the largest group, of nearly 35 percent, named Vladimir Putin. Asked whom they would pick if Putin kept his promise not to seek a third term, 12 percent supported First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and 9 percent backed First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Denis Belunov, a senior official in Garry Kasparov’s oppositional United Civil Front, expressed concern that the growing apathy would benefit the Kremlin. He added: “I am not surprised at the fading interest in politics after the Kremlin has brought much of the media under its control.” The study found that young people are much more concerned with their education, career and future economic well-being than they were 10 years ago. They also are more positive about the overall quality of their lives, with 64 percent claiming to be happy compared with 46 percent in 1997. The study, conducted with support from the German Friedrich Ebert foundation, interviewed 1,796 people aged 17 to 26 as well as 655 people aged 40 to 60 in March and April. No margin of error was given.

Annals of Russian Youth Apathy: Nashi’s Achilles Heel?

Ordinarly, La Russophbe would not be filled with delight to learn of a new study showing that young Russians couldn’t care less about politics. However, there may be a silver lining in this news, in that at least it shows the Nashi youth cult is an abysmal (and classically Russian) failure, having giving rise to no increase in political interest whatsoever. Indeed, it may well be that Russia’s only protection from total neo-Soviet ruin is the ignorance and apathy of Russian y young people. On the other hand, this was undoubtedly true in the time of Stalin as well at least to some extent, and this probably gave rise to the need for draconian violance to force the slackers into line. The Moscow Times reports:

Young Russians today are more materialistic and less political than any other generation before them, according to a study released Monday. The study, conducted by the Sociology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, indicated that half of all young people have no interest in politics. It also found that many young people know nothing about Young Guard, Nashi and the other youth organizations that have made national and international headlines in recent months.

A total of 49 percent of the young respondents expressed no interest in politics whatsoever, a sharp increase from 33 percent in a similar study in 1997, said Mikhail Gorshkov, director of the Sociology Institute.

Gorshkov blamed the entertainment industry for the growing apathy. “It is wielding a much greater emotional influence,” he said at a presentation of the study. He said the number of young people taking an active interest in politics (14 percent) and participating in politics (about 2 percent) have remained relatively stable over the past decade.

The study also found that youth movements are not quite as popular as might have been believed. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they did not know any of the 16 movements mentioned by researchers, while 31 percent said they did not know any youth movements at all.

Of the 16 groups mentioned, United Russia’s youth group, Young Guard, received the highest level of support, at 11.9 percent, followed by another pro-Kremlin group, Nashi, at 6.3 percent. None of the remaining 14 movements got more than 3 percent. A leading member of Young Guard, Nadezhda Orlova, said she was pleased with the findings. “Not everybody has to be interested in politics,” she said, calling 11.9 percent a good result. The study found widespread apathy about elections, with 27 percent refusing to commit to a political party and 22 percent saying they did not vote. Asked about their preference for the presidential election in 2008, the largest group, of nearly 35 percent, named Vladimir Putin. Asked whom they would pick if Putin kept his promise not to seek a third term, 12 percent supported First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and 9 percent backed First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Denis Belunov, a senior official in Garry Kasparov’s oppositional United Civil Front, expressed concern that the growing apathy would benefit the Kremlin. He added: “I am not surprised at the fading interest in politics after the Kremlin has brought much of the media under its control.” The study found that young people are much more concerned with their education, career and future economic well-being than they were 10 years ago. They also are more positive about the overall quality of their lives, with 64 percent claiming to be happy compared with 46 percent in 1997. The study, conducted with support from the German Friedrich Ebert foundation, interviewed 1,796 people aged 17 to 26 as well as 655 people aged 40 to 60 in March and April. No margin of error was given.

Annals of Russian Youth Apathy: Nashi’s Achilles Heel?

Ordinarly, La Russophbe would not be filled with delight to learn of a new study showing that young Russians couldn’t care less about politics. However, there may be a silver lining in this news, in that at least it shows the Nashi youth cult is an abysmal (and classically Russian) failure, having giving rise to no increase in political interest whatsoever. Indeed, it may well be that Russia’s only protection from total neo-Soviet ruin is the ignorance and apathy of Russian y young people. On the other hand, this was undoubtedly true in the time of Stalin as well at least to some extent, and this probably gave rise to the need for draconian violance to force the slackers into line. The Moscow Times reports:

Young Russians today are more materialistic and less political than any other generation before them, according to a study released Monday. The study, conducted by the Sociology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, indicated that half of all young people have no interest in politics. It also found that many young people know nothing about Young Guard, Nashi and the other youth organizations that have made national and international headlines in recent months.

A total of 49 percent of the young respondents expressed no interest in politics whatsoever, a sharp increase from 33 percent in a similar study in 1997, said Mikhail Gorshkov, director of the Sociology Institute.

Gorshkov blamed the entertainment industry for the growing apathy. “It is wielding a much greater emotional influence,” he said at a presentation of the study. He said the number of young people taking an active interest in politics (14 percent) and participating in politics (about 2 percent) have remained relatively stable over the past decade.

The study also found that youth movements are not quite as popular as might have been believed. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they did not know any of the 16 movements mentioned by researchers, while 31 percent said they did not know any youth movements at all.

Of the 16 groups mentioned, United Russia’s youth group, Young Guard, received the highest level of support, at 11.9 percent, followed by another pro-Kremlin group, Nashi, at 6.3 percent. None of the remaining 14 movements got more than 3 percent. A leading member of Young Guard, Nadezhda Orlova, said she was pleased with the findings. “Not everybody has to be interested in politics,” she said, calling 11.9 percent a good result. The study found widespread apathy about elections, with 27 percent refusing to commit to a political party and 22 percent saying they did not vote. Asked about their preference for the presidential election in 2008, the largest group, of nearly 35 percent, named Vladimir Putin. Asked whom they would pick if Putin kept his promise not to seek a third term, 12 percent supported First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and 9 percent backed First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Denis Belunov, a senior official in Garry Kasparov’s oppositional United Civil Front, expressed concern that the growing apathy would benefit the Kremlin. He added: “I am not surprised at the fading interest in politics after the Kremlin has brought much of the media under its control.” The study found that young people are much more concerned with their education, career and future economic well-being than they were 10 years ago. They also are more positive about the overall quality of their lives, with 64 percent claiming to be happy compared with 46 percent in 1997. The study, conducted with support from the German Friedrich Ebert foundation, interviewed 1,796 people aged 17 to 26 as well as 655 people aged 40 to 60 in March and April. No margin of error was given.

Annals of Russian Youth Apathy: Nashi’s Achilles Heel?

Ordinarly, La Russophbe would not be filled with delight to learn of a new study showing that young Russians couldn’t care less about politics. However, there may be a silver lining in this news, in that at least it shows the Nashi youth cult is an abysmal (and classically Russian) failure, having giving rise to no increase in political interest whatsoever. Indeed, it may well be that Russia’s only protection from total neo-Soviet ruin is the ignorance and apathy of Russian y young people. On the other hand, this was undoubtedly true in the time of Stalin as well at least to some extent, and this probably gave rise to the need for draconian violance to force the slackers into line. The Moscow Times reports:

Young Russians today are more materialistic and less political than any other generation before them, according to a study released Monday. The study, conducted by the Sociology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, indicated that half of all young people have no interest in politics. It also found that many young people know nothing about Young Guard, Nashi and the other youth organizations that have made national and international headlines in recent months.

A total of 49 percent of the young respondents expressed no interest in politics whatsoever, a sharp increase from 33 percent in a similar study in 1997, said Mikhail Gorshkov, director of the Sociology Institute.

Gorshkov blamed the entertainment industry for the growing apathy. “It is wielding a much greater emotional influence,” he said at a presentation of the study. He said the number of young people taking an active interest in politics (14 percent) and participating in politics (about 2 percent) have remained relatively stable over the past decade.

The study also found that youth movements are not quite as popular as might have been believed. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they did not know any of the 16 movements mentioned by researchers, while 31 percent said they did not know any youth movements at all.

Of the 16 groups mentioned, United Russia’s youth group, Young Guard, received the highest level of support, at 11.9 percent, followed by another pro-Kremlin group, Nashi, at 6.3 percent. None of the remaining 14 movements got more than 3 percent. A leading member of Young Guard, Nadezhda Orlova, said she was pleased with the findings. “Not everybody has to be interested in politics,” she said, calling 11.9 percent a good result. The study found widespread apathy about elections, with 27 percent refusing to commit to a political party and 22 percent saying they did not vote. Asked about their preference for the presidential election in 2008, the largest group, of nearly 35 percent, named Vladimir Putin. Asked whom they would pick if Putin kept his promise not to seek a third term, 12 percent supported First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and 9 percent backed First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Denis Belunov, a senior official in Garry Kasparov’s oppositional United Civil Front, expressed concern that the growing apathy would benefit the Kremlin. He added: “I am not surprised at the fading interest in politics after the Kremlin has brought much of the media under its control.” The study found that young people are much more concerned with their education, career and future economic well-being than they were 10 years ago. They also are more positive about the overall quality of their lives, with 64 percent claiming to be happy compared with 46 percent in 1997. The study, conducted with support from the German Friedrich Ebert foundation, interviewed 1,796 people aged 17 to 26 as well as 655 people aged 40 to 60 in March and April. No margin of error was given.

Nashi, Laid Bare

In a photo taken from the Nashi (“us Slavic Russians”) youth cult
website, a young child, decked out in Nashi’s colors and wearing a
protest whistle hung from a Russian-flag ribbon, prepares to take his
first Komsomol-like steps into the folds of youth cult oblivion.

Once again, the good offices of La Russophobe‘s heroic original translator open a window in to neo-Soviet Russia that would otherwise be closed to the non-Russian speaking world. This time, it’s the unabridged Nashi manifesto direct from Nashi’s website. You can see the unabridged version in Russian, the juicy bits from which are translated below, here, and the shortened, brochure-like screed in Russian is here (a comic book version of the manifesto has been published and distributed by Nashi as a propaganda leaflet; it was translated into English here, but then the translation was mysteriously withdrawn — you can view the leaflet here, in German translation); the Nashi website itself was blocked for a time from Western browswer access, but at least for now is available; LR’s commentary about the leaflet version is here and here).

Just for instance, Nashi claims that the USSR simply “decided” to give up the arms race because of its own enlightenment, and likewise “decided” to allow German reunification on the same basis (and note too its obsessive focus on the idea of counterrevolution, now styled as “colored revolution,” and the demonization of the U.S., linking Russia’s “liberals” to foreign spies looking to subvert Russian independence). As you see Vladimir Putin channel the ideology of Vladimir “Lenin” Ulyanov, creating a brand-new “Komsomol” organization for youth indoctrination in ideology, you see the final nail struck into the Neo-Soviet coffin of Russia. Some have misled us, claiming that the new Russian dicatatorship lacks the ideological underpinnings of the old USSR. Nobody can read this translation and still think so. How long before this ideology makes its way into text books, how long before a “party” requires indoctrination in this ideology before assuming the mantle of power? How long before it becomes a crime, punishable by gulag, to publicly criticize this ideology or those who espouse it?

NOTE: If you are interested in reading translations straight from the pages of the Russian press, check out LR Translations, La Russophobe‘s translations library, which contains nearly two dozen articles from the Russian press that you will find nowhere else. If any Russian-speaking reader is aware of Russian material that is a good candidate for translation, please let us know.


“Nashi” Organization’s “Manifesto with Commentaries

Summary and Commentary

General Comments

— This is a long document, about 80 pages as I printed it out. It definitely does not merit full translation. It is, however, a great deal more interesting than the basic Nashi Manifesto (without “commentaries”, available on the same website), which is very vaguely worded and does not identify the ideological underpinnings and concrete objectives of the Nashi organization.

— The Manifesto lists as its only “main sources” four articles/speeches by Vladislav Yuryevich Surkov, a former GRU officer, currently Putin’s Deputy Chief of Staff, and widely viewed as the Kremlin’s main ideologist. In other words, this appears to be purely Surkov’s “movement”.

— At the outset, the Manifesto gives the appearance of being much more moderate in tone than some of the leaflets that have been handed out by Nashi members at recent demonstrations. Toward the middle, however, it becomes increasingly caustic and anti-Western, and more openly reveals the main purpose of the Nashi movement, which is to help the authorities suppress mass pro-democracy demonstrations.

— Reflecting Soviet ideas about the unity of physical and social sciences, the overall tone of the Manifesto is ponderously pseudo-academic and at times pseudo-scientific, though in its opening paragraphs it also carries a disclaimer, to the effect that “a manifesto is not an analysis or an article, but a call to action”—perhaps hoping to insulate itself from criticism that as an article it is short on facts, and as analysis it is not at all objective.

— On the other hand, the Manifesto also hopes to find usefulness as an “ideological weapon in the hands of political soldiers”, so we might expect to see a lot of its ideas being repeated on various RuNet forums, blogs, etc. The serious Russia watcher may therefore be interested in a quick survey of its major themes, in order to track their re-appearance elsewhere (and thereby, so some extent, the rise or fall of Surkov’s star), as well as predict the activities of the organization.

Some Key Quotes:

“Today the U.S. on one side, and international terrorism on the other, are trying to take control of Eurasia and the entire world. Their sights are set on Russia. The task of our generation is to defend the sovereignty of our country the way our grandfathers did 60 years ago.”

“The ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine and the ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia occurred due to internal reasons, but under critically important influence from outside. External forces in large part prepared these revolutions and organized their progress. For this reason one can say that the countries that underwent ‘colored revolutions’ organized from abroad in large measure lost their sovereignty.”

“On the eve of the 2007-2008 elections, the party of oligarch revenge is again raising its head. It is betting on an orange revolution in Russia, a “Berzovskiy revolution”. We, NASHI, will not allow the party of oligarch revenge to return to power in Russia. We will not allow them to steal Russia’s future. Oligarch capitalism is our main enemy in Russia. We will uproot it and ensure progress, freedom and justice in Russia.”

“NASHI is firmly determined not to allow Russia to suffer a geopolitical coup d’etat and the introduction of external control under the guise of a ‘colored revolution’. At the decisive hour we are prepared to send hundreds of thousands of young people into the streets of Russia under the banner of ‘Sovereignty and Independence for Russia’. We are prepared to fight for Russian democracy.”

“Our opponents claim that NASHI is a Kremlin-sponsored scheme against an ‘orange revolution’….And indeed, we are opposed to an ‘orange revolution’ of the Ukrainian type, because this is a geopolitical scheme for the establishment of external control over the country.” [TN: No attempt whatsoever is made anywhere in the Manifesto to rebut the accusation that NASHI receives its financing from the Kremlin – even after the Manifesto itself brings it up.]

“We will help the members of the Movement to become high-ranking professionals and … prove their right to lead Russia, in government organizations, businesses, social structures and mass media.”

“Every oligarch or bureaucrat, street rabble or member of a totalitarian organization who raises a hand against a member of our movement should clearly understand that tomorrow he will face the movement as a whole.”

“It was Russia that defeated Hitler in the Second World War… Other countries…helped us in this war. They sold us arms, raw materials, manufactured products, etc. They even conducted their own wars on the periphery… (But) only on June 6, 1944 – less than a year before the end of the war – did the U.S. and U.K. open a second front in Europe.”

“Russia itself unified Germany, thereby creating the most powerful government in Europe, the center of European integration and power.”

“The victory of Russia in the Second World War created the basis for a world order which until recently guaranteed the world would be defended against global hegemony by any one country (whether Nazi Germany or the USA) and a repeat of a new (sic) world war.”

Major Points/Themes (in approximately the order presented)

1. Frequent and mostly approving references to Communist/Soviet ideology.

“The most famous manifesto in history was the ‘Communist Manifesto’ of Marx and Engels, which turned the world on its head. With it, people went to the barricades, to prison and even to their death. They went, risking everything, because they believed in the ideas set forth in that Manifesto…”

Very telling detail: Apparently taking pride in its notoriety, the Nashi website also uses the old “.su” domain name designated for the Soviet Union. This is an example of what the Manifesto later calls “historical optimism.” [LR: In a similar way, pop star Oleg Gazmanov croons about being “made in the USSR“]

2. Heavy appeals to generational vanity, reminiscent of the old “Komsomol” Communist youth movement, but trenchantly critical of the last generation of Soviet and first generation of post-Soviet leaders. Several pages are devoted to detailing past “great generations” in Russian history. A poll is cited, supposedly showing that the younger generation of Russians is much more optimistic than older generations:

“Do you expect that in the near future the country will undergo change, and if so, then for the better or for the worse? (“FOM”/Public Opinion Foundation, Aug 2005)”

—————Generations

———–Youth—- Older

Better —–53% —–35%

Worse —— 9% —– 18%

(Interestingly, according to the above, 38% of young Russians and 47% of older Russians apparently thought there would be no change, or refused to respond.)

The Manifesto quotes another survey, by the British polling company BBDO, indicating that Russian youth are more optimistic about their future than their counterparts in the West, with 80% vs. 46% believing they will live better than their parents. (Of course, this is probably because the Russians are starting from such a low base compared to their Western peers, but no mention is made of this possibility.)

Young Russians are also supposedly more work-loving as well, since only 13% of young Russians plan to retire as early as they can, versus 48% in the West. (The real reason for this difference will surely be obvious to anyone familiar with Russian pensions and investment schemes.)

Also more patriotic: “The percentage of potential defenders of the Fatherland is twice as high in Russia as in Western Europe – 64% vs. 34%.” (The question that evoked these responses is not given; it is also not clear whether this was from the same poll as the one previously cited.)

And more thirsting for opportunity, professional success, entertainment, social responsibility, etc. (No figures/explanation/sources given for this assertion.)

3. Repeated emphasis on “competition” and “competitiveness,” starting with several definitions, including this one:

“Competition – in biology: Antagonistic relations, defined by the effort of the best and fastest to achieve some objective compared to other members of the community. Competition arises for space, food, light, shelter, mates, etc. Competition is a manifestation of the struggle for existence”

This sets the stage for the extremely zero-sum conception of economic competition and other forms of engagement with the outside world that follows.

Two examples of the results of “globalization” are given, both of them completely negative:

— Brazilian automobile manufacturing: Brazil is now the 10th largest manufacturer of cars in the world, but all of them are of foreign design.

— Russian aerospace industry: “Not only our foreign partners, but even the leadership of the largest Russian aviation companies are demanding that the Russian government lift tariffs on the import of aviation technology. If this happens, civil aviation manufacturing in Russia will cease to exist.” (Emphasis in the original.)

Conclusion: “Globalization is a project for reinforcing the hegemony of the USA in the modern world.” Nevertheless, “Our task is to make Russia a leader in globalization.”

4. A thinly-disguised bribe/threat is made for young people to join the Nashi movement:

“We will help members of the Movement to become high-ranking professionals and in open competition with others succeed and prove their right to lead Russia, in government organizations, businesses, social structures and mass media.”

(Considering that Nashi is more-or-less openly funded by the Russian government, and such a large percentage of major businesses, social organizations and media outlets are also owned/operated by the government, it is highly doubtful how “free” this competition will be; this is an “offer” that many young people in Russia will probably find hard to refuse.)

5. Dark predictions of another collapse of Russia. The Manifesto takes a long digression through an interpretation of history provided by the English historical philosopher Arnold Toynbee, reflecting darkly on the fates of the Roman, Byzantine and Austro-Hungarian empires, and concluding with the odd claim that the center of world finance passed from London to New York City as a result of England becoming a debtor to the U.S. after World War I (rather than the sharp increase in America’s share of world GDP around the same time – combined with America having inherited most of the English legal and accounting traditions). A long excerpt is given from a speech by Putin about the collapse of the Russian economy in the early-1990s. The conclusion: “If Russia loses (this) competition, it may disappear like the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Some, perhaps, may rejoice in this, hoping to profit from it. But we love our Motherland, and will not allow this to happen.”

6. Miscellaneous assertions, digressions loosely connected to “competitiveness”:

— The U.S. makes up and changes the rules of the global economy while the game is being played (no examples given).

— A long review of the historic military threat from the West, recounting all the many invasions Russia has suffered throughout its history (while failing to mention a single one of Russia’s many invasions and annexations of neighboring countries).

— Back to the generational theme, with empty rhetoric: “Our generation is not satisfied with the status of geopolitical loser… We have set for ourselves the goal not only of pulling Russia from crisis, but of ensuring its leadership in the modern world.”

— Promise to promote a strong, technologically advanced army, and cultural leadership, so that “the life of the average citizen in Russia will be such that we will be envied by people of other countries.”

— Notes that “the U.S. Department of State will spend $328 million in 2006 for external propaganda and improving the image of the U.S.” (No analogous figures are given for other countries, much less on a per-capita or income-adjusted basis. A cynic might point out that this would be especially difficult to compare in the case of Russia, where virtually all mass media are state-operated, to say nothing of publications by Kremlin-funded “movements” like Nashi.)

7. Grandiose assertions about Russia and the Soviet Union’s central role in world history, “setting the political agenda” of the “modern world order”, etc.:

— “In terms of the potential of the future leadership of Russia, we view Russia as the historical and geographical center of the modern world…”

— “The 20th Century was the Russian Century. Three times in the course of this century Russia set the format for world history. The October Revolution (1917) was the historic call that in the end set the political agenda for the 20th century.”

— The Communist Party of the Soviet Union is given credit for:

– the 8-hour workday

– free public education

– unemployment insurance

– workman’s compensation

– worker participation in the management of companies

– universal suffrage

– rights of women.

All of these measures, the Manifesto claims, were adopted by other countries only after they were instituted in Russia by the Bolsheviks.

It was Russia that defeated Hitler in the Second World War… Other countries…helped us in this war. They sold us arms, raw materials, manufactured goods, etc. They even conducted their own wars on the periphery… (But) only on June 6, 1944 – less than a year before the end of the war – did the U.S. and U.K. open a second front in Europe.”

For Nashi, it’s “fascism” for Estonians to dare to move a monument
involving Russian soldiers in their own country. Here, a brigade of Nashi’s
wait at the airport to attack an Estonian diplomat, urging her to
“go back to fascist Estonia.” But Nashi doesn’t have any problem with
Russia moving the monuments of other countries within Russia, and it
does nothing to protect Russian memorials
from being denigrated by the Russian people themselves.

— Claims that Russia’s singular victory over fascism validated the “new world order” of the Yalta agreement.

— “Russia unilaterally ended its participation in the ‘Cold War’ because it came to realize the pointlessness of military confrontation… Russia itself unified Germany, thereby creating the most powerful government in Europe, the center of European integration and power.”

— Presents a long digression into the achievements of the Socialist world. (This appears to have been uncritically lifted from a Soviet history textbook, with only a small change in how the story ends.)

— Explicitly compares the U.S. to Nazi Germany: “The victory of Russia in the Second World War created the basis for a world order which until recently guaranteed the world would be defended against global hegemony by one country (whether Nazi Germany or the USA) and a repeat of a new (sic) world war.”

8. Russian nationalism, couched in the language of multiculturalism:

— Goes on at some length about Russia’s unique geopolitical position, spanning several continents and many time zones. Brief, pointless critique of “isolationism”, giving 19th century Japan as example (while managing to avoid mention of Russia’s role that story’s denouement, in 1905). Pointless review of various religious groupings of the world.

— Comes to two very contradictory conclusions: 1) “It must be clearly understood that multiculturalism is an important advantage for Russia in the modern world”; and 2) “At the same time, Russians are the government-forming and most populous people of Russia, and for this reason the fate of Russia will depend in large measure on well-being of and position occupied by Russians.”

— Condemns “aggressive nationalism, separatism, religious intolerance.” Belittles the imporatance of linguistic identity as a factor in creating national identity, using as evidence the fact that here are 10,000 languages in the world, but only about 200 independent countries. Blames “separatism” for the breakup of Yugoslavia. Long review of separatist movements in India, China and Europe. Claims Sikhism is “separatist” (very dated information, especially considering the current PM of India is a devout Sikh).

— Another long interlude about Russia being the “heartland” of Eurasia, concluding: “Today the U.S. on the one side, and international terrorism on the other, are trying to control Eurasia and the entire world. Their sights are set on Russia. The task of our generation is to defend the sovereignty of our country the way our grandfathers did 60 years ago.”

9. Obsession with “sovereignty”, vigorous defense of the term “sovereign democracy”. The term “Sovereign Democracy” in reference to Russia was, of course, invente by Surkov himself. The Manifesto starts with a long-winded discussion of “sovereignty”, followed by a list of countries that have supposedly given up parts of their sovereignty:

– Georgia, due a status of forces agreement with the U.S. that excludes prosecution of U.S. troops on Georgian soil by Georgian courts.

– Czech Republic and Hungary, due to 70% of their banks being controlled by foreign capital.

– Argentina, due to use of the U.S. dollar reserves as a benchmark for limiting issuance of new pesos.

– All the countries of NATO.

– Countries with common tariff agreements, intelligence-sharing agreements (presumably refers to the EU, but gives the weird example of Egypt in the period 1875-1952, when it was largely governed by Britain).

– Government economic policies dictated by foreigners (Russia 1992-1998).

Then a list of other ways sovereignty can be surrendered:

– Mass media ownership (Latvia, Estonia and the Czech Republic)

– Infrastructure ownership (Chinese railroads, until 1949)

– Foreign ownership of key tax revenue suppliers (oil extraction in the countries of the middle east, until nationalized in the early 1970’s)

– Foreign influence in “the political system as a whole. A nation should determine its own president, parliament and judicial system. A nation has no right to tolerate outside forces exerting a strong influence on its political system, least of all at key moments in history.”

A few pages later, the term “Sovereign Democracy” is introduced, defined and fiercely defended:

“Sovereign Democracy is a new term, born in Russia at the beginning of the 21 century. It emphasizes the problem that in the modern world every country is confronted with attempts to limit its sovereignty.” (Note Surkov’s modesty in not identifying himself as the father of this newborn term.)

“Sovereign Democracy means that Russia does not intend to develop democracy under the external instruction of anyone. It does not intend to take a test on democracy administered by foreign professors and build democracy according to a foreign mold. Russia will walk the path of democracy and do this in accordance with its own national interests and traditions, and will not sacrifice to abstract principles the genuine interests of its people – interests in security, stability and a high standard of living.”

10. “Colored Revolutions” as loss of sovereignty. The need to defend against “colored revolutions” is a key point in the Manifesto, probably the main point, and is tied strongly to the Manifesto’s notion of “sovereignty” as being pure of any outside influences:

“The ‘Orange Revolution’ in Ukraine and the ‘Rose Revolution’ in Georgia occurred due to internal reasons, but under critically important influence from outside. External forces in large part prepared these revolutions and organized their progress. For this reason one can say that the countries that underwent ‘colored revolutions’ organized from abroad in large measure lost their sovereignty.”

“Many countries, formally remaining independent, are in fact not sovereign. For example, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, have surrendered their foreign and defense policies to NATO and the leader of NATO – the USA; their economic policies, to the EU; and they have sold off key elements of their economies to European – for the most part German –corporations, which have located in these countries only low-technology manufacturing.”

“Several of the countries of the former USSR also surrendered their sovereignty. For example, Georgia surrendered a large part of its defense policy to American advisors. The plan adopted after the ‘Orange Revolution’ for the integration of Ukraine into NATO and the system for Ukrainian-American consultations are mechanisms for controlling Ukraine’s foreign policy by the USA. The plan for “Europeanization”, developed for Ukraine by the EU, is a mechanism for the control of Ukraine’s internal policies by the EU.”

A few pages later, the Manifesto repeats the above paragraph almost word-for-word, with the following new introduction: “The so-called ‘colored revolutions’ that took place in Georgia and Ukraine and planned in other countries represented the formation of a system for external control of the country.”

The Manifesto then cuts to the chase about the true purpose of the Nashi movement:

“NASHI is firmly determined not to allow Russia to suffer a geopolitical coup d’etat and the introduction of external control under the guise of a “colored revolution”. At the decisive hour we are prepared to send hundreds of thousands of young people into the streets of Russia under the banner of ‘Sovereignty and Independence for Russia’. We are prepared to fight for Russian democracy.”

11. Rejection of “Assimilation” (outside of Russia):

“…the policies of assimilation, of suppressing the Russian language and Russian culture, have been systematically pursued by the countries of the Baltics for the past 15 years with the silent approval of European and world public opinion, which in relation to Russia professes a double standard. What Russia cannot do in relation to one or another national minority, other countries can do to Russians.”

The Manifesto goes on to point out that many non-Russians (Georgians, Ukrainians, Kazaks, Jews) also use Russian as an “international language” while living in third countries, and says the Russian government should defend their “right” to do this as well.

12. Presentation of the Nashi movement as a force of moderation, standing between the extremes of Nationalism/Fascism and Liberalism:

“Liberals are prepared to sacrifice the country’s independence for the sake of personal freedom. Communists and fascists are prepared to sacrifice the personal freedoms of citizens to achieve a great state. For us the two sides of freedom are inseparable… Personal freedom and national sovereignty are two sides of the same coin.”

And later in the Manifesto: “Today before our very eyes an unnatural union is being formed between Liberals and Fascists, westernizers and ultranationalists, international organizations and international terrorists. It is held together by only one thing – hatred of Putin.”

13. Presentation of Russia and the Soviet Union as peace-loving countries, in harsh contrast to the United States. After a rambling and pointless cataloging of various forms of democracy observed around the world, the Manifesto suddenly and without explanation reverts back to its “independence” theme:

“Russia in 1917 became the first country in the world to proclaim as a founding principle the right of nations to self-determination. Russia recognized the independence of all countries whose governments announced – often despite the will of the people of these countries – the desire to become sovereign. Russia gave the gift of independence to many countries that did not fight for it. Russia does not desire to subjugate any peoples, but neither will it allow its national interests to be harmed, nor will it allow anything to be imposed on Russia which is opposed by our people.

“The USA, by contrast, does not recognize the right of the world’s people to free development…” With this, the Manifesto launches into a long review of U.S. military interventions in Latin America and Iraq, followed by a claim that Russia is a “just country” (again, no mention whatsoever of Russian/Soviet interventions/annexations). This is followed by a gratuitous, vague and suspiciously Marxist-sounding definition of justice, which concludes (with emphasis): “The concept of justice always has an historical character, dependent on the living conditions of the people”. The Manifesto then trails off into a very communist-sounding celebration of Russians’ supposed special solidarity as a society, “where the fate of one person is inextricably tied to the fate of others, where assistance and support of fellow citizens is the norm…” etc.

14. Disgust with recent generations of Russian/Soviet leadership. At this point, the Manifesto abruptly announces a “change in format”, and embarks on a long condemnation of the late/post-Communist and pre-Putin leadership of Russia: “The generation that led the country beginning in the 1980s lost faith in the country and its future. Some of its representatives look to the West and wait for examples and orders… The entrenched mentality of defeat does not allow even consideration of the question of leadership of Russia.”

The Manifesto continues for several pages railing against the “offshore aristocracy”, “defeatist generation” (pokoleniye porazhentsev), “elite of disintigration” (elita raspada), etc. This is followed by a glowing review of China’s modernization program, then a long and approving excerpt from the Putin speech in which he asserted that “the breakup of the Soviet Union was the worst geopolitical catastrophe of the century”.

15. Blame of the “Oligarchs” for all of Russia’s current problems. The Manifesto spends about five pages lambasting Russian oligarchs for the state of the country, claiming that “oligarch capitalism” is the “main obstacle to development of the country”, represents “privatization of the government”, “destroys democracy”, etc., then warns:

“On the eve of the 2007-2008 elections, the party of oligarch revenge is again raising its head. It is betting on an orange revolution in Russia, a “Berzovskiy revolution”. We, NASHI, will not allow the party of oligarch revenge to return to power in Russia. We will not allow them to steal Russia’s future. Oligarch capitalism is our main enemy in Russia. We will uproot it and ensure progress, freedom and justice in Russia.”

(Hatred of the business elite is a common theme for the siloviki elite, and harkens back to old Communist propaganda encouraging class envy and mistrust of capitalist markets. No distinction is made in the Manifesto between “oligarchs” and other wealthy Russian businessmen. One can safely assume that any politician not financed by the Kremlin or someone friendly to Putin will be considered by Nashi to be backed by an “oligarch”.)

16. Tacit admission to being Kremlin-financed. In a burst of frankness, the Manifesto notes: “Our opponents claim that NASHI is a Kremlin-sponsored scheme against an ‘orange revolution’….And indeed, we are opposed to an ‘orange revolution’ of the Ukrainian type, because this is a geopolitical scheme for the establishment of external control over the country.” (Note: No attempt whatsoever is made anywhere in the Manifesto to refute the accusation that NASHI is Kremlin-financed – even after the Manifesto itself brings up the question.)

17. Review of “Objectives”:

1) Preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia. Starts out with a quick mention of the war in Chechnya, but almost immediately lapses into a long discussion of the threat posed by “Fascism”, with a few pages spent trying to link it to Liberalism (and finding some unlikely support in a few out-of-context quotes from Zbignew Brzezinski). Oddly, the Manifesto then suddenly changes its mind and concludes that fascism is not nearly as much of a threat in Russia as it is in other countries, due to Russia’s “fiercely anti-fascist ideology”, and characterizes the threat as consisting only of “a multitude of ‘minor fascist organizations’.”

2) Modernization of the country. A laudable goal, to be sure, but among eight items listed as necessary for achieving it (patriotism, historical optimism, strategic thinking, social responsibility, openness to the new, constructiveness/cooperation, leadership qualities, and a “high level of professionalism in one’s field of activity”), there is no mention whatsoever of support for free markets, promotion of good corporate governance, protection of investors rights or the rule of law in general. Making this omission the more striking, the Manifesto then spends several paragraphs lauding China’s recent economic achievements.

3) Formation of a functioning civil society. The Manifesto acknowledges the growing importance of NGOs in the modern world, but then seems to imply that “Nashi” is the only legitimate one in Russia: “Government bureaucracy is fundamentally incapable of moving (civil society) forward. This can be done only by our movement… Enough talk about defending human rights. The blather of current Liberals is the worst advertisement for democracy…”

The Manifesto goes on to eulogize Putin as a “man of action”, and recounts in detail the founding of the Nashi movement (again, not a word about the sources of its funding). An account is also given of how one of its members was beaten up by self-proclaimed Bolshevik thugs, and Nashi’s first mass rally in response.

This leads to an example of the sort of “civil society” Nashi has in mind: “We should serve as an example of social solidarity. Every oligarch or bureaucrat, street rabble or member of a totalitarian organization who raises a hand against a member of our movement should clearly understand that tomorrow he will need to deal with the movement as a whole.”

The Manifesto concludes with a repeat of its earlier appeal to “replace the generation of defeatism with the generation of NASHI, the elite of disintegration with the elite of development”, and promise to “create a new generation of managers… and bring this generation to power.” (Again, since this is a government-backed organization, such an offer of “career assistance” can hardly be viewed as anything but a veiled threat that those who fail to join Nashi – like its predecessor Komsomol – will be systematically excluded from positions of power. As the Russian writer Matvey Ganapolskiy recently pointed out, this “offer” is just another part of the Big Lie now being re-assembled in the Neo-Soviet Union.)

Newsweek on the Nashi Youth Cult Thugs

Unquestioning Loyalty: ‘The idea was to create an ideology based on a total devotion to
the president and his course,’ says Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected ideologue who
helped found Nashi in 2004.

Newsweek’s Russia correspondents Owen Matthews and Anna Nemtsova report on the horrifying neo-Soviet youth cult “Nashi” — no different than the old Komsomol, as La Russophobe has been reporting for months now. The speed at which this blog’s once “extremist” analysis of Russia has become conventional wisdom is a hallmark of the horror that is modern Russia.

The attacks came in waves, with military precision. Hours after Estonia removed a World War II statue of a Soviet soldier from downtown Tallinn last month, virtual war broke out. News agencies, banks and government offices were targeted in a blitzkrieg of spam—an onslaught of billions of e-mails, many apparently generated in Russia, that brought down servers and jammed bandwidths to bursting. As “eTonia’s” famous digital-based free markets and democracy buckled under the strain, top NATO Internet security experts last week rushed to construct defenses against the world’s first massive cyberstrike by a superpower on a tiny and almost defenseless neighbor.

In Moscow, the attacks took a decidedly less modern cast. Activists from a Kremlin-created youth movement called Nashi stormed a press conference by Estonia’s ambassador, retreating only after the diplomat’s bodyguards sprayed them with Mace. Others blocked the birch-lined highway from Russia to Estonia with barriers and a large sign reading YOU ARE DRIVING TOWARD FASCIST ESTONIA. Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, commemorated the Soviet victory over Nazism with a massive military parade and dark warnings of “new threats” to world security, “as during the time of the Third Reich.”

The historical echoes are unsettling. Once again the Kremlin is on the offensive. And the shock troops in its war against Russia’s enemies, real or imagined, is a new generation of impassioned young militants—the Communist Youth League, if you will, of Putin’s Russia. They have names like Nashi, “Ours,” or the Young Guard and Walking Together. Highly disciplined and lavishly sponsored by the Kremlin, these young ideologues came from nowhere a few years ago to number more than 100,000—a bona fide private army fanatically loyal to one man, the president, that denounces political opposition groups as traitors and fascists, demonizes foreign enemies from Estonia to Georgia to Poland and dedicates itself to the glorification of the Soviet Union and Russian power. “We need to make Russia strong again,” says Nikolai Panchenko, a Nashi “commissar,” or leader. (Yes, the old nomenclature has returned.) “It is time to put an end to America being the strongest and most influential empire. We won’t let America make Russia another one of its colonies.”

Back in Russia’s communist heyday, the Soviet youth group, Komsomol, sprang from the ruling party’s obsession with “shaping the political consciousness” of a young generation. And so it is today. The Kremlin’s drive to win—or control—the hearts and minds of Russia’s youth took root in the aftermath of popular revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan in 2003-05. Realistically or not, many in the Kremlin worry that Russia might somehow be next. “The crucial role that young people played in those revolutions made us realize that something should be done,” says Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected ideologue who helped found Nashi in 2004. “The plan was simple,” he explains. “We launched Nashi in towns close to Moscow so that activists could arrive overnight on Red Square, if needed. The idea was to create an ideology based on a total devotion to the president and his course.”

With parliamentary and presidential elections coming up, Nashi and its sibling movements have an obvious target—anyone who presumes to challenge Putin and his ruling clique for power. Who might they be? Nashi recently issued a leaflet identifying them. This “Gallery of Traitors,” appearing in print and online, featured twisted portraits of such opposition leaders as former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov and radical writer Eduard Limonov. They were declared enemies of the people, scheming to subvert their nation and turn it over to foreign spies and conspirators. Among them, too, are exiled Yeltsin-era oligarch Boris Berezovsky and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former billionaire brought down after he began funding opposition to Putin in 2004.

Last month Nashi staged its boldest and most organized mass rally yet. Some 15,000 volunteers donned red jackets, with putin’s communicators emblazoned on the back, and spread out across Moscow distributing brochures and 10,000 specially made SIM cards for mobile phones. The cards allowed users to send text messages to the Kremlin—to be answered promptly by Nashi volunteers. Recipients were also instructed to use the cards to report any signs of an incipient Orange revolution. In that event, the cards would instantly relay text-message instructions on what to do and where to rally. “We explained to Muscovites that we should all be prepared for the pro-Western revolution, funded by America,” says Nashi activist Tatyana Matiash, 22. “People must know what to do to save their motherland in case their radio and TV stop working.”

Not to be outdone by Nashi, the Chelyabinsk chapter of the Young Guards recently staged a training session in how to combat a possible Orange revolution in their city. A hundred volunteers with orange bandannas pretended to storm the local television station; Young Guards mobilized to defend it. The day ended with Guards wielding baseball bats to smash up an “Orange” tent camp, much like that erected on Maidan Square in Kiev two years ago. Last week in Sosnovy Bor, 120 kilometers from St. Petersburg on the Estonian border, Nashi volunteers toured village schools with a film entitled “Lessons in Courage.” The movie opened with images of a vast Nashi meeting of youths in identical white T shirts, red stars on their chests, and continued with shots of Putin juxtaposed against photos of a noble-looking wolf, followed by images of rats symbolizing corrupt government bureaucrats. “Putin is a lonely wolf surrounded by rats,” says Panchenko to the schoolchildren. “Russia has become too corrupt—it is time to change things, time for stronger leaders, like us.”

The paramilitary flavor is unmistakable. Every summer, Nashi runs recruiting camps all across Russia. New members watch propaganda films and receive basic military-style training, says Nashi boss Vasily Yakimenko. They are lectured by top bureaucrats and politicians, including Deputy Defense Minister Yury Baluyevsky and the thuggish Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov—honored as a “Young Politician of the Year” at last year’s Nashi congress. Activists who sign up a hundred new members qualify for promotion to commissar, so long as they pass a grueling three-day series of paramilitary assault courses and physical tests. “We had to demonstrate physical strength, endurance and team leadership,” recalls Leonid Kurza, 23, the leader of the St. Petersburg chapter of Nashi, inducted last winter. Nashi also runs volunteer police troops, who wear black uniforms and, according to the movement’s press service, “help police to patrol streets—and if necessary beat hooligans.”

Earlier this month Nashi’s army staged a paramilitary exercise at a boot camp near Podolsk, 25 kilometers outside Moscow. About 50 activists in military fatigues marched in formation and ran obstacle courses. They practiced field-stripping Kalashnikov rifles and Makarov pistols, followed by an hour of target shooting. Less militaristic members can join a Nashi corps called SplaMeran abbreviation of “unification activities”—which offers psychology courses for team leaders. “We learned gestalt therapy and different methods of helping people relax and stay cheerful in the most severe conditions,” says Matiash, a psychology student. “The enemy is using manipulation and provocations against us. We need to be ready to fight, shoot if we need to, to defend the principles of our current government.”

Participants in Nashi learn how to use weapons, means of chemical protection and take physical exercises at a children’s camp outside Moscow
Misha Galustov / Photographer.Ru for Newsweek
Learning a Skill: Participants in Nashi learn how to use weapons, means of chemical protection and take physical exercises at a children’s camp outside Moscow

Veteran dissident Valeria Novodvorskaya likens Nashi to “a new Putin-jugend” modeled on the Hitler Youth. That’s an overstatement. Nashi and other groups may be fanatically loyal to Putin, but their rhetoric and methods are more like a sinister parody of democracy movements in Ukraine and elsewhere. Much of their activity is orchestrated by Vladislav Surkov, Putin’s right-hand man for political and media issues, who meets regularly with the groups’ leaders to organize propaganda and political campaigns. The Kremlin is lavish with its funding, too, says analyst Ilya Ponamarov of the Institute of Globalization Studies, both in direct cash contributions and encouraging state-owned businesses to sponsor programs. The institute estimates that the “Putin’s Communicators” campaign alone cost $220 million. And like the old Komsomol, the perks of membership are considerable. Members enjoy free admission to various schools of management, where they study government, business administration or public relations. They go on to allocated internships in top state enterprises such as Gazprom, Rosneft, state-owned television stations and even the Kremlin.

Western leaders are growing increasingly alarmed at Russia’s new direction. They have watched as it has retreated farther and farther from democracy under Putin’s rule. They have been dismayed at the spectacle of thousands of riot police beating down small numbers of protesters mustered by the country’s increasingly weakened political opposition parties. Last week U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Moscow to take the temperature of relations, which have reached close to freezing. In his Victory Day speech Putin appeared to compare America to Nazi Germany, warning of the threats from countries with “contempt for human life and the same claims [as the Nazis] of exceptionality and diktat in the world.” Putin has also vehemently denounced U.S. plans to station ABM missiles in Eastern Europe. “Everyone is frankly scared of the way which Russia is going, but no one knows what to do about it,” says one European diplomat in Moscow, not authorized to speak on the record. With the Kremlin aggressively pursuing its enemies at home and abroad, and grooming a militant youth movement as de facto enforcers of its nationalist vision, Russia’s neighbors are wondering with growing concern which of them could be next.

The Horror of Nashi Revealed

A reader directs us to a link which contains a page-by-page translation of Nashi’s manifesto [UPDATE: unfortunately, this page has since been removed] a little red book which lays out, in horrifyingly neo-Soviet manner, the Nashi cult ideology of hatred for the West and worshipful adoration of Vladimir Putin, exactly like what went on in the time of Stalin. That’s the cover above, where they brag about being “connected to the President.” Here’s a page from inside:

The pamphlet gives a statement from Mikhail Kasyanov in quotation marks, saying he’s decided that after he’s elected president he’ll sell Russian oil to the West at 1/3 the market rate. The fact that Kasyanov has never said any such thing means nothing to Nashi’s propagandists. A helpful reader has provided a link to his actual remarks, where Kasyanov simply says he wants to improve Russia’s oil infrastructure and efficiency (these are infamous problems, about which Putin has done nothing, hoarding the oil windfall inside the Kremlin walls), thus lowering the cost of production and enabling Russia to sell oil at the same profit but a reduced price, driving down world prices while depriving Russian producers of nothing. By lowering the world market price, he would curry favor with the West, stabilize the Middle East and end Cold War II, thus dramatically reducing Russia’s need to spend money on weapons while increasing its security. Nashi, of course, while totally perverting Kasyanov’s statement in classic Soviet propaganda style, fails to mention that Russia spends a far greater share of its national income on weapons than other nations of similar per capita GDP, just as in Soviet times a massive burden on an impoverished population. Putin, instead, is antagonizing the world into seeking alternative sources of energy so that Russian oil will become obsolete and its economy a helpless, hopeless morass. Nashi, of course, says nothing about that either. Here’s a second page:

The author has crudely Photoshopped a headline for the International Herald Tribune which declares, in woefully crude English, that the West has arrested Russian “hero” soldiers for war crimes in Chechnya. The fact that Russian soldiers are actually guilty of war crimes in Chechnya, and that the Kremlin has acknowledged this by paying compensation it was ordered to pay by the European Court for Human Rights, means nothing to Nashi.

Welcome to the Neo-Soviet Union!