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Kremlin Moves Away From Aggressive Youth Policy

Published: July 4, 2014 (Issue # 1818)



  • After Ukraine's Orange Revolution ten years ago, Moscow decided to engineer its own loyal youth movement.
    Photo: Maxim Stulov / Vedomosti

President Vladimir Putin signaled a switch Thursday from the government's previous youth policy of aggressive political groups toward a more traditional approach to instilling patriotism.

"We need to give young people more knowledge about Russia's historical, cultural and natural riches back in school," Putin said. "This is, perhaps, the main way to make them learn to love their motherland and become useful to it," he told a group of government officials and heads of civil society groups in the Kremlin.

His comments suggested there was little likelihood of the resurrection of the abrasive Kremlin-manufactured youth groups that flourished in the last decade.

After Ukraine's Orange Revolution ten years ago, in which young people emerged as a driving force for change through mass public protests, Moscow decided to engineer its own loyal youth movement to offer young people a framework for their political ambitions and crucially to counter-balance oppositional rallies in case of need.

The Nashi movement emerged as the brashest. Their often controversial, belligerent campaigns included harassing foreign ambassadors and opposition figures, as well as organizing mass marches in support of Putin.

Putin demonstratively threw his support behind the movement by attending some of its annual large-scale camp congresses on the shores of Lake Seliger in the Tver region. The government's former chief ideologue, Vladislav Surkov dubbed the "Kremlin demiurge" managed the Nashi project as his personal brainchild.

But when the Russian government faced its own wave of simmering political activism at the end of 2011, Nashi failed to offer any alternative to the tens of thousands who gathered at anti-government rallies in central Moscow. Since then, Nashi has almost disappeared from the headlines.

The organization's press secretary Anastasia Fedorenchik said Thursday that the movement "is not doing much now, but still officially exists today."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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