Monday, July 18, 2005

Return of the Commissars

In the Moscow Times, a report on the two-week camp in Tver at which Nashi ("Ours") commissars are planning the future strategy of the pro-Putin youth movement. An excerpt:
Soviet-era songs drifted from the main stage in the center of the camp, where the commissars gathered at 8 a.m. They stood at even intervals on a enormous grid of plastic strips. Young people who had birthdays that day were called to the stage and congratulated, then most of the group left for the daily five-kilometer run. Two circles of young women performed aerobics for the eager lenses of photographers.


The star of the show Saturday was Kremlin adviser and political consultant Gleb Pavlovsky, who walked through the camp, trailed by dozens of young people, more than a few shirtless and suntanned. They questioned him and listened closely as he opined about the military draft and Ukraine's Orange Revolution. He was visibly pleased with the attention.

"I love talking with these young people," Pavlovsky said. "We need to prepare a politically literate generation because the lack of a developed political culture means a small number of people can make dangerously radical decisions."

Hundreds sat, notebooks in hand, during Pavlovsky's lecture that afternoon. He first warned against an obsessive search for Russia's enemies, saying it distracted from a proper focus on problems such as poverty in the regions and public education. Turning to the theme of combating fascism -- another of Nashi's stated goals -- Pavlovsky said Russia was fulfilling Western Europe's need to find a "problem" population. "Russia is the Jew of the 21st century," he said.

Commissar Alexei Gorelov, 19, said the large turnout for Pavlovsky's lecture was proof of the effect the camp was having on the young people. "Walk around the camp and listen," he said. "No one's talking about beer and girls. They're talking about politics. I've seen people transform in front of my eyes."
(Hat tip: Marius)

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