Seth Bernstein is an Assistant professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow where he specializes in the history of Soviet politics, culture and society. He’s the author of Raised Under Stalin: Young Communists and the Defense of Socialism published by Cornell University Press and the English translator of Alexander Vatlin’s Agents of Terror: Ordinary Men and Extraordinary Violence in Stalin’s Secret Police published by the University of Wisconsin Press.
Queen, “Flash,” Flash Gordon, 1980.
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“Who has the youth, has the future!” Though attributed to Martin Luther, this declaration has mostly been the providence of the modern states as they attempt to cultivate youth to ensure their future reproduction. Post-Soviet states are particularly keen to the importance of capturing youth. This is witnessed in the revival of Diet-Komsomol and Young Pioneer-lite groups like Nashi and Mishki in Russia or the Republican Youth League of Belarus. Now you can add one more group to the list: the Young Kadyrovtsy. “In the face of my comrades, I solemnly swear: I will devote all my strength, knowledge and intellect to [the] cause of serving the Motherland! I will always fulfill the laws of the kadyrovtsy!” a group of schoolchildren were shown declaring to a Chechen flag in a television report on the new movement. According to the North Caucasus Weekly, Chechnya strongman president, Ramzan Kadyrov is fertilizing his cult of personality among next generation with his own version of the Young Pioneers.
The website quoted an unnamed official in Chechnya’s Ministry of Education and Science as saying that the creation of a children’s organization similar to the Soviet Union’s Young Pioneers will help strengthen discipline in the republic’s schools, and raise the students’ level of responsibility and desire to excel. The official did not say whether the initiative to create the group had come from his ministry or at the local level. “The presence of some kind of student organizations in the schools is a good thing,” the official said. “It is enough to remember our childhood, when Pioneer and Komsomol organizations were operating in the country, when there was the Timurovsky movement [another Soviet-era youth movement-NCW].” He added: “Beginning with early childhood, such qualities as honesty, straightforwardness and mutual readiness to help are built in a person. It’s not important what this movement or organization is called. The main thing is that a feeling of patriotism and love for their Fatherland is instilled in children.”
Kadyrov claims that the organization is not in his honor, but in his father’s. When asked about the Young Kadyrovtsy in an interview with Komsomolskaya pravda, the president explained,
The Young Kadyrovtsy are in honor of my father, Akhmat Kadyrov, the first President of the Chechen Republic. The Young Kadyrovtsy must be the purest, most honest, proper and faithful. I am certain that these lads who understand the idea of the first President will never make any mistake. They will serve the state, they will serve the people (narod) and never betray Russia, and never do bad by it.
The Young Kadyrovtsy are part of a wider trend to promote youth into the Chechen government. And Kadyrov knows the power of youth by personal experience. It shouldn’t be forgotten that he’s only 32 years old. He then went on to explain how young people are vital to the Chechen state:
Irinia [the interviewer], if you observe the present situation in our Republic you will notice that we make an emphasis on youth. We appoint and elect mainly young people to key positions–the Minister of Education, the chancellor of the state university, the Chief of Staff to the President and Government, and the Mayor of Grozny. And we have many youth also in Parliament. Everywhere!
From this aspect, the future is in their hands.
Or, following Luther, in his.
Thanks to Lyndon for alerting me to the story.
Photo: Komsomolskaya pravda.Post Views: 700