Nashi is having trouble in naming a new leader, reports Kommersant. In a press conference yesterday Nashi leader Vasilii Yakemenko announced that Nikita Borovikov will head Nashi after he steps down after the 2008 elections. Many believe that Yakemenko is slated to head a new government department on youth policy.
But the announcement wasn’t free of controversy. It was known that Yakemenko favored Voronezh Commissar Marina Zademid’kova to lead Nashi. Apparently, according to a anonymous source Yakemenko’s favorite was squashed by Vladislav Surkov himself. “Surkov told [Yakemenko] that he was crazy and that [choosing] Zademid’kova had to reversed, therefore she lost,” the source said. If the source is correct, the intervention of Surkov suggests that the Kremlin isn’t going to let Nashi’s fate be decided without their approval.
Kommersant also states that the interference of the Kremlin’s chief ideologue has threatened to undermine Nashi’s charter. Yakemenko denied that Borovikov was a shoe in for the post. Borovikov himself suggested that there would be a primary “like in real elections” for the next leader of Nashi. Could Nashi be headed for a crisis in leadership?
Kommersant suggests that one problem is that it appears that the Kremlin is unsure of what Nashi’s future direction will be; a future that is certainly tied to Yakemenko’s. Putin seems undecided whether a centralized youth policy is even feasible. “Establishing a single center for youth management–I think that’s in the past,” Putin said in a meeting with pro-Kremlin youth groups on 24 July. “Instead, the state should create conditions that enable young people to achieve their potential – in careers, private life, culture, and politics.” In addition to Nashi, several youth groups back the Kremlin–Mestnye, Molodaia gvardiia, Molodaia Rossiia, Novye Liudi, and Nasha strana. The Kremlin might just decide that getting youth to achieve their potential might best be accomplished through diversity (but not too diverse!).
And this lack of concrete policy has Yakemenko in stasis. He looks to leave Nashi, but current conditions require him to stay and possibly require him to prove himself useful for the future. As Yabloko youth leader, Ilya Yashin told Kommersant, “They gave him the understanding that first it is necessary for him to curry favor, and they gave him the motivation–to lead more actively in the election period. If he can prove himself necessary, then he could get something in return.”
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By Sean — 12 years ago
Russian youth continues to be a topic for commentary on Russia Profile. The husband-wife team of Yelena Rykovtseva and Alexei Pankin comment on the conservatism of Russian youth and the differences between the lives of Soviet post-Soviet Russian youth. These two commentaries are nicely supplemented by an article in the Moscow News on the new radical and pro-Kremlin youth group, Young Russia.
I’ve never been an advocate of generational conflict or a stark divide between generations, but my own research and reading is suggesting more and more that a generational analysis might prove fruitful. This “clash of generations” is an overarching theme in Rykovsteva’s and Pankin’s articles, where they decry Russian youths’ unwillingness to question the government and their passive acceptance of Russian life. Their ire comes from the fact that both grew up in Soviet times when their lives were haunted by the contradictions between Soviet propaganda and Soviet reality. This contradiction, Pankin argues, was what pushed those of his generation to question authority and strive for changes. The “Khrushchev Generation” begot perestroika.
However, their mistake was making “fetishes of freedom and democracy instead, seeing them not so much as tools in our hands as an aim unto themselves, a means of entering paradise.” It seems that this fetishization has for the most part attained ideological hegemony among today’s Russian youth. Whereas the contradiction between formal and actual freedom drove the Soviet system to suspension, the new system seems to feed off its opposite. The fetishization of actual freedom, in the form of the abundance consumer items, popular culture, individual freedom, etc, has allowed for the restriction of formal freedom—state structures and organizations based on openness, democracy, and civil society. Such is the heart of Pankin’s statement, “Today’s young people are more restricted in their freedom to move in their immediate environment, but much freer to move around the world. For us it was the other way around.”
For Rykovsteva, this is the reason why the Russian government can speak to something like education reform without actually doing anything. She writes,
The issue is that young people in today’s Russia are not rebels by nature. Everything has changed. The KVN television program, which pits university students against each other in a sort of humor and satire competition, was an oasis of free-thinking in the Soviet years, but hardly anyone jokes about politics on today’s version, or, if they do, they take care not to upset the authorities. In the past, the youth were, a priori, critical of whatever the authorities did. Today’s young people are, a priori, sympathetic. There are always exceptions, of course. Besides those like the reporter who changed jobs to support the authorities, there are others who are fired for criticizing the authorities. It just seems to me that the first group is bigger than the second.
Such views are fueling the membership of groups like Nashi and now Young Russia. Young Russia, the Moscow News reports, is rather new on the scene. It boasts a membership of 2000. Forming in April 2005 by students at Moscow’s Bauman University, Young Russia seeks to unite “sensible youth that loves its country and takes upon itself the responsibility for its future.” What they really seem like is a pro-government answer to the National Bolsheviks, which Young Russia has declared enemy number one. In one incident last week, members of Young Russia pelted a Natsbol leader Eduard Limonov with eggs. The Natsbols responded with boots to the face and air guns that fired rubber bullets. A 14 year old passerby was sent to intensive care after he got caught up in the melee. In another incident, 17 Young Russia members were arrested attempting to break up an anti-censorship rally. Many believe that the group is being financed by the Kremlin but these allegations have been denied by the group’s press secretary Alexander Kalugin.
The truth of the matter is that Young Russia is yet another of the several pro-Kremlin youth organizations that have sprung up to prevent democratic change in Russia. With this, it is difficult to write off Yelena Rykovtseva’s and Alexei Pankin’s trepidation as simple generational conflict. There are many qualitative difference between their and the new generation of Russian youths. A politics accepting of the status quo, it seems, is one of the glaring ones.Post Views: 54
By Sean — 10 years ago
For the last few days Russian Live Journal has been reeling over the posting of a video showing the execution of two men, a Tadjik and Dagastani, by masked figures claiming to be members of a little known fascist group called National Socialism/White Power, reports Kommersant. The two minute video, posted as “The Execution of a Tadjik and Dagastani” by one “Antitsigan” (i.e. Anti-gypsy) shows the men stating, “Russian National Socialists arrested us” before one masked figure in camouflage slits the throat of one and shoots the other in the head. The two masked men then give a “Sieg Heil” as the video fades to a Nazi flag with punk rock guitar barrage soundtrack.
RFE/RL calls the two minute video, which isn’t the first of its kind, a “hate crime video.” I call it a political snuff film. Some like Aleksandr Belov, the leader of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration claims that the video is a fake and a “provocation.” “There are two versions. This is either committed by someone who sincerely considers that this is how it is necessary to fight non-residents or this is a provocation to discredit the Russian idea and stir up a fight against its supporters,” Belov told Kommersant. Belov also noted that the video may be connected to the detention of Maksim Martsinkevich, aka “Tesak,” the leader of the Nazi group Format-18, during his trial in a Moscow city court.
Also speaking to Kommersant, Aleksandr Berkhovskii, an expert at SOVA, thinks that the video is the real deal. “It doesn’t look like this clip was staged. It’s very natural and looks genuine.” He also admitted to the Associated Press that “I’ve never seen anything that blatant.”
The identities of the two men are still unknown.
The Russian MVD has opened an investigation into the video, but a spokesperson stated that it was too soon to determine if the video was real or not. Legally the authenticity of the video is not as much an issue for it violates several statues of the Russian extremist law. Under the law, any representation that seeks to insight racial or ethnic violence is considered criminal.
Is the video real or a fake? That is the question that has made the video one of the most discussed topics on Russian Live Journal. The video has since been removed from most websites.
Writing on his site, ZheZhe user aleke writes, “It makes absolutely no difference to me who did the executing, who was executed, or whether it was an execution at all. . . Nationalism has shown for a long time now nationalism doesn’t mean love for one’s country but hated toward others. Can there be talk about some kind of “Russian nationalism” if Russians are only mentioned in slogans and speeches and at the center of attention are Caucasians?”
Another ZheZhe user, dimantrump, dismissed the video as a provocation by the FSB. “What is the motive?” he asks. “It still turns the screws. Still more strongly enslaves the Russian people. In the end, as past experience has shown that such incidents ultimately play into the hands of the occupiers.”
I personally think that the question of its “reality” isn’t important beyond the need to bring the murders to justice. After all, given the sophistication of media technology is there any absolutely sure way to authenticate such a video? Granted, I have not watched it, nor do I intend to. But to me this video’s political resonance says something more about spectacle of violence that inhabits our modern lives rather than anything specific about nationalism or fascism in Russia. As far as I’m concerned the members of “National Socialism/White Power” are merely reproducing what has already become a staple in our media diet. From the “real” videos of Chechens beheading Russian soldiers, Beslan, Daniel Pearl, Abu Ghraib, suicide bombings, and school and workplace shootings (and the media’s obsession over them) to the “fake” torture scenes of shows like 24 and other films, hasn’t the gap between the real and the fake long collapsed, making their distinction merely academic. What is important is the connection between politics and extreme violence, or really the use of extreme violence as political spectacle. After all, has not the previously virtually unknown National Socialism/White Power made an instant name for itself with nothing more than a two minute commercial?Post Views: 86
By Sean — 10 years ago
Russian youth’s embrace of Nazism doesn’t just happen in Russia. It’s also happens where one might not initially expect: Israel. Haaretz reports that Israel’s Interior Ministry arrested eight members, all aged 16 to 21, of a Nazi gang in Petah Tikva, a suburb outside of Tel Aviv. The arrests are the result of a year long investigation into street attacks and vandalism of the suburb’s Great Synagogue. The group, who is responsible for attacks on religious Jews, immigrants, homosexuals, homeless, and drug addicts, which they filmed, was found in possession of Nazi literature and posters, five kilos of explosives, a pistol, and an M-16. The M-16 was acquired when one of the youths was drafted into the IDF. He has since fled Israel back to Russia, leaving the rifle with his comrades. The Israelis plan to seek his extradition. Six of the eight have confessed their crimes to police. One of the two holding out is the gang’s leader, Eli Boanitov, who told police, “I won’t ever give up, I was a Nazi and I will stay a Nazi, until we kill them all I will not rest.”
Reports on the story are quick to deny the perpetrators’ “Jewishness.” Haaretz states that all eight youths “have distant ties to Judaism and nonetheless immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union under the Law of Return.” Y-Net states that all but one are “are non-Jewish immigrants” from Russia. The Jerusalem Post also emphasized that the youths were “immigrants” and not bona fide Jews. Such assertions have led Israeli politicans to call for a tightening of the definition of the Law of Return. Some are considering to revoke the youths of their Israeli citizenship. Parliamentarian Effi Eitam, a member of the right wing National Religious Party, said that the Law of Return has allowed Israel to become “a haven for people who hate Israel, hate Jews, and exploit the Law of Return to act on this hatred.” Another deputy, Eli Yishai, the ultra-Orthodox Minister of Trade and Industry told reporters, “We have to rid ourselves of this Satan who lives in the heart of Israel.” This is despite statements from Prime Minister Olmert that the incident shouldn’t be used to “criminalize an entire population nor make generalizations.” Instead, he said, “Israel, as a society, failed in educating the youths discovered to be neo-Nazis.” Other commentators were quick to stress that the incidents were isolated and not indicative of a wider trend.
While this may be true, the uproar such an isolated incident has caused signifies the youths’ apostasy. And the fact that the gang’s leader, Eli Buanitov is in fact a Jew makes his sin all the more significant. Eli Buanitov told police “I won’t have kids. My grandfather is half yid, so that this piece of trash doesn’t have ancestors with even the smallest percent of Jewish blood.” In interview with Israel’s Channel 10, Buanitov’s mother denied that her son was a Nazi and that “he is simply a boy and maybe he didn’t fully understand what [Nazism] is and maybe for him it was like a game.” She also emphasized that her son was indeed Jewish. “He was born in a Jewish family and was raised in a Jewish family. And he knows a lot about the war.” In response to a question about whether her mother was a Holocaust survivor, she replied, “Yes. When he was young he heard a lot of stories about it. And he knows very well how terrible it was. And how many Jews were killed.” As far as his Nazi tattoos, Mrs. Buatinova explained that they read in Yiddish, “God is with us.” In addition to his mother’s statements, Buatinov’s lawyer attempted to boost his client’s patriotic credentials. He stressed that the Buatinov family immigrated eight years ago, his client even has a brother serving in IDF combat units, that Eli attended a yeshiva high school for a twelfth grade, and has been working in a “security office in a very sensitive position” for the last year.
What is interesting about this case is not whether the youths indeed committed the crimes or if they sincerly embraced neo-Nazism as an ideology. What is at issue is whether the perpetrators are Jewish or not. The fact almost all of the youths are Russian immigrants with dubious Jewish connections allows many Israelis to rest easy. They can reason: Neo-Nazism is not some homegrown phenomenon but a disease injected into the body politic by the infiltration of some outside Other. But Buatinov’s existence threatens to rock the conceptual foundation of Jewishness itself. The idea of a neo-Nazi Jew is such an anathama that Israel has no law against it. If a Jew can also be a neo-Nazi, and worse become one in Israel, then what does that say about the conceptual coherency of Jewishness itself? The fact that Israeli society could breed its very negation seems to call into question the stability of its justification for existence. Put simply, the gang’s existence posits the question: in a post-Holocaust world, can a Jew be a Nazi?
The question, it seems, is too horrifying to ask, let alone answer. And this is why the gang’s non-Jewishness and antisemitism is being emphasized and not the fact that non-Jewish immigrants were also their victims. After all, Israeli racism against immigrants, especially Asians, Africans, and Russians, is common. The idea that Nazism could be embraced as an expression of that racism toward reveals the fact that two absolute contradictions–Jew and Nazi–are perhaps not so absolutely contradictory after all.
But these questions are likely to be ignored. If reader responses are any indication, targeting Israel’s Russian immigrant population as the breeding ground for wayward youth seems to be the comfortable route. Somehow, however, I doubt explaining racism with racism will do much to alleviate the problem. It will only shroud it further with nationalist fetishisms that will only inflame calls to exact the Russian cancer from Israeli’s otherwise healthy body politic.
Maya Haber provided all Hebrew translations.Post Views: 58