Patriotic panties for Putin. That is basically the idea behind Nashi wear designed by model, fashion designer, and commissar Anatonia Shapovalova. Shapovalova’s patriotic fashion line for Nashi activists debuted last summer at Camp Seliger and caused a sensation in December when Nashistki strutted the catwalk bearing more than just the slogan “Vova! I’m with you!” at a Nashi rally on Red Square.
Shapovalova’s fashion is part of several of Nashi’s current campaigns. According to internal Nashi documents obtained by Novaya gazeta, Shapovalova’s purpose remains “unclear.” It’s most likely a commercial venture with a Nashi ideological twist. Shapovalova even has a store in Moscow where you can buy t-shirts with Yuri Gagarin, “I want three,” “Vova, I’m with you!” “I love people,” Let’s go!” “1945,” and “Anti-fa”.
Nashi’s backing has certainly shot Antonia Shapovalova up the Russian fashion world. Her “Fall-Winter 2008-09” collection was featured at this week’s “Fashion Week in Moscow.” It also shows how fashion and celebrity have become integrated into the Nashi cause. According to a Nashi press release, Russian pop stars such as Aleksandr Panaiotov, Dom-2 reality show starlet Kseinia Borodina, the boy band Chelsea, and the girl quartet Tutsi have all embraced the Shapovalova design. Score one for “this new look at youth fashion and new method of educating young patriots.”
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By Sean — 9 years ago
The plan to fill Russia’s streets with 100,000 young militiamen by 2010 has been all over the Russian internet media over the last few weeks. And as usual the thought of the Russian government recruiting and deploying youth to monitor the streets has many shaking in their boots. Perhaps for good reason. The Russian police are already known for their corruption. Having a potential army of 100,000 youths “protecting” the streets certainly doesn’t provide much comfort.
The militia plan, which was announced at this year’s Seliger camp, will allow Nashi to form an All-Russian Association of Militias before the end of the year. Nashi has had a youth militia program in the works since 2007. The All-Russian version will incorporate the Nashi DMD and place the militias directly under the local police. Former Nashi founder and chairman of Russia’s Youth Affairs Council Vasili Yakemenko will appeal to the government for “start-up funds” and local administrative support. Advocates for the initiative are hoping to pass some version of the law “On the participation of RF citizens in securing law and order” which has been sitting in the Duma for a few years despite MVD sponsorship.
According to the project’s leader Sergei Bokhan, youth militias will kill two social ills with in one stroke. Deploying the deputized youths will help keep law and order and get “at-risk” kids off the street and direct their energies to more socially purposeful endeavors. And I’m sure if they let all that energy out on helping OMON crack some National Bolshevik heads, then all the better. “We find kids, who are practically living on the streets,” Bokhan told Gazeta.ru,“who don’t know how to occupy themselves, and who don’t have money or interests. We provide them with gyms, teach them combatant and competitive sports. We work with the at-risk group, who would potentially break a bottle over someone’s head, or throw rocks through windows.” This wouldn’t be the first time Nashi has recruited such kids to do their dirty work.
The real question is whether the youths will be armed with non-lethal weapons: nightsticks, air or stun guns etc. As some have noted the law in the Duma will allow citizens participating in militias to get licenses to carry weapons. Though I doubt that doling out nightsticks to street hooligans turned street security is what the MVD has in mind. The MVD already let their concern about youth extremist groups, hooliganism, and violence be known in February.
Plus allowing youths to carry weapons were require changing weapon possession laws. There there is the public fear of giving people with criminal records the right to legally carry weapons. According to Anastasia Dzhmukhadze, who works for the Moscow police licensing office,
“The allegation that youth will go out on the street with “non-lethal weapons” is some kind of fabrication which has been leaked to the press, and which journalists have spread without knowing anything about the issue whatsoever. This is impossible for many reason, but it is simply because no one will change the weapons law for the sake of training at-risk teenagers. For the registration of licenses to carry and possess weapons conditions must be observed which are equal for all. First, no one will give a license to persons under 18 years old . . . Second, [an applicant] must pass a physical and mental health exam on a regular basis by a medical commission. Third, no one with a criminal record can be trusted with the possession of non-lethal weapons even for self-defense.”
Indeed, if the militia will be recruited among the at-risk youth who are already apt to bust bottles over people’s head or hurl rocks at windows, nothing remotely positive can come out of giving them batons and air guns.
This is of course assumes that the All-Russian youth militia project will get off the ground in the first place. Nashi and Yakemenko make a lot of plans. Whether they actually materialize and in what form is often anyone’s guess.Post Views: 229
By Sean — 9 years ago
For those interested in Nashi, I recommend listening to this interview with Dr. Regina Heller from the University of Hamburg Institute for Peace and Research (a recent article of hers on Nashi can be found here). I think Heller’s discussion serves as as good primer for understanding the many aspects to the pro-Kremlin group. I find it puzzling that the interviewer is surprised that the state is mobilizing youth for support. She seems to think that youth are somehow inherently against the state and for change. This must be some kind of post-1960s myth because historically youth have more often than not been used for rallying nationalist and pro-government support. Groups like the Boys’ Brigades, Boy Scouts, Wandervogel, Hitler Youth, and Komsomol were not known for their anti-government rhetorics.
One issue Heller timely takes up is whether Nashi’s days are numbered since it’s “served its purpose” and is now “politically obsolete” for the Kremlin. I don’t agree with this. Nashi may be in crisis (interestingly not unlike like the Komsomol was after the Russian Civil War) and is searching for its role in Medvedev’s Russia. I think I would count on its death anytime soon. Especially if Lyndon is correct and “colored revolution” continues to be a specter that haunts the political elite.Post Views: 182
By Sean — 11 years ago
It looks like Nashi is up to its tricks again. According to news reports, Anthony Brenton, the British Ambassador to Russia, has filed a formal complaint to the Russian Foreign Ministry, claiming that Nashi members have been “psychologically harassing” him. Nashi’s harassment of Brenton is not directly linked to the Litvinenko murder per se, though the incident has certainly heightened political tensions between Russian and British officials, but the fact that he has emerged as a harsh critic of Russia’s human rights record. “It is a deliberate psychological harassment which is done professionally and which borders on violence,” says Mr Brenton. He also claims that Nashi’s activities could not be without Kremlin sanction.
Whether Nashi is being directed by the Kremlin to harass Brenton is immaterial. There is nothing to suggest that they can’t organize and execute such campaigns on their own. In fact, I would gather that the anti-Brenton campaign is by their own initiative; initiative that the Kremlin isn’t going to simply shun. Kremlin officials, especially Putin’s chief architect of ideology, Vladislav Surkov, meet regularly with Nashi, making Moscow’s endorsement of the movement is unmistakable. And Nashi activists know this and see it as an implicit mandate for their activities. Nashi has become one of the populist means to intimidate those it has deemed enemies of Russia and Putin. Welcome to the Komsomol reincarnate.
The Telegraph reports:
For nearly five months, Nashi activists have picketed both the British embassy and Mr Brenton’s residence, heckled virtually every speech he has given, followed his car and even posted details of his itinerary on their website — a move that has raised fears for the ambassador’s security.
Mr Brenton’s woes began in July, shortly before Russia hosted its first ever G8 summit, when he addressed an opposition conference despite Kremlin warnings that his presence would be viewed as “an unfriendly gesture”. Though the speech itself was fairly anodyne, Mr Brenton was the only western diplomat to speak at the “Alternative Russia” gathering, a gesture that incensed Mr Putin.
The president accused the ambassador of seeking “to influence the internal balance of power in Russia”.
Nashi’s campaign began shortly afterwards. Last night a spokesman for the British embassy said that the ambassador had received assurances that the matter would be dealt with.
It seems inconceivable that Nashi could be acting without the tolerance of the Kremlin. Although it denied harassing the ambassador, Nashi has pledged to continue its campaign until Mr Brenton apologizes for attending the “Alternative Russia” summit.
The most recent harassment of Brenton occurred at Moscow’s Humanities University where Nashi members heckled him with “Brenton, apologize!” as he stood next to British playwright Tom Stoppard, who is Moscow to promote his play about Russian 19th century intellectuals. This was followed by another incident in Samara. After a meeting with the governor of Samara, Brenton was confronted by about 25 Nashi activists led by Tikhon Chumakov and Aleksei Flora. According to the youth organization’s website,
After [Brenton] noticed the Nashi commissars, he immediately entered the building of Britain Council of Samara. He pointed his finger at Aleksei Flora, and after standing confused for a few seconds, turned and went away with his companion. The commissars could not simply forgive of the ambassador’s sympathy for fascists and went after him shouting “Brenton is a coward!” and “Brenton, apologize!”
The ambassador could only get away from Nashi only by car. That evening Anthony Brenton left Samara.
There is even a video of the incident.
Brenton is lucky to simply be a victim of heckling and “psychological harassment.” He could after all be subject to the tactics they use against rival youth organizations. As Mark Grueter wrote about Nashi in May this year:
Either way, one might take a bit of solace in realizing that a government which feels a need to establish street-thug organizations in order to defend itself reveals not strength but weakness. The Tsar was inept and desperate and his repressive attempts at counter-revolution, his support for the Black Hundreds, only led to civil war and his eventual blood-soaked overthrow. Where will Putin’s counter-reforms lead us?
What is worrisome about the Nashists, however, is their alleged connection to the country’s burgeoning neo-Nazi skinhead population. Jake Rudnitsky of the eXile reported the following in February: “It’s an open secret that Nashi security, at least at its Moscow events, is provided by Spartak football hooligans with ties to racist skinheads.” I’m also told that United Russia (Putin’s political party and practically the only party in the country) in Vladivostok openly collaborates with neo-Nazis to defend its interests on the streets. Putin is a shrewd politician, preaching anti-fascism on one hand (indeed the Nashi outfit is sold to the public as an antifascist one) while simultaneously employing xenophobic rhetoric himself. Rudnitsky concludes his piece on skinheads, “If anything, they’re [Kremlin operatives] interested in co-opting the fascists and turning them into a politically useful tool in case of a threat from an Orange — or a National-Bolsheviks — revolution.” But there is no real threat, not now anyway. And further study is needed on just how closely Nashists and Nazis (to the extent that there’s a difference) are indeed colluding.
“Colored Revolution” looks as bleak as it did earlier this year, but the wonderful thing about enemies is that they can easily be found elsewhere. It seems that Nashi has found there’s in Mr. Brenton, who has become their current symbol for anti-Russian and anti-Putin forces.Post Views: 244