Nashi (youth movement)

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Youth Democratic Anti-Fascist Movement "Ours!"
Логотип Движения НАШИ.jpg
Logo NASHI
Flag Nashi.svg
Flag of NASHI
Motto Who if not us
Formation 15 April 2005
Type Political youth movement
Purpose Sovereign democracy, Anti-fascism, Anti-liberal, street protests in support of Vladimir Putin, the struggle with the color revolutions in Russia.
Headquarters Moscow
Membership 150,000[citation needed]
Official language Russian
leader of the movement Vasily Yakemenko
Main organ Rosmolodej
Website

groups

Remarks Color groups: Red, blue, green

Nashi (Russian: Молодежное демократическое aнтифашистское движение «Наши», Molodezhnoye demokraticheskoye antifashistskoye dvizhenye "Nashi" Youth Democratic Anti-Fascist Movement "Ours!"') is a political youth movement in Russia,[1][2] which declares itself to be a democratic, anti-fascist, anti-'oligarchic-capitalist' movement.[3] Its creation was encouraged by senior figures in the Russian Presidential administration, and by late 2007, it had grown in size to some 120,000 members aged between 17 and 25. On April 6, 2012, the leader of Nashi announced that the movement would be dissolving in the near future, possibly to be replaced by a different organisation. He stated that the movement had been "compromised" during the recent presidential election.[4]

In 2008, the movement was divided into groups: Nashi-2.0, Steel, All Houses, Nasha Victory and other.[citation needed]

Critics have compared it to the Soviet Komsomol[5] or the Hitler Youth[6] and dubbed as Putinjugend.[7][8][9][10]

Foundation[edit]

The movement was officially announced by Vasily Yakemenko, (leader of the pro-Putin Walking Together youth movement) on 1 March 2005. The founding conference was carried out on 15 April 2005. It is believed that Nashi was established mainly as a reaction against Ukraine's Orange Revolution in 2004, in which youth-led street protests helped give the presidency to pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko.

Yakemenko claims to have constituted Nashi as a movement to demonstrate against what he saw as the growing power of Nazism in Russia and to take on skinheads in street fights if necessary.[11] While officially, its funding comes from pro-government business owners,[12] it is widely reported that the group also receives direct subsidies from the Kremlin.[13] Yakememko once said to Gazeta.ru that the Kremlin's support makes it possible for them to tell businessmen "guys, we need money for a national project".[14]

Nashi's close ties with the Kremlin have been emphasised by Vladislav Surkov (Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff during 1999-2011), who has met the movement's activists on numerous occasions, delivering speeches and holding private talks. It has been speculated that the Kremlin's primary goal was to create a paramilitary force to harass and attack Putin's critics as "enemies of the State".[15] At one event for political education in summer 2006, the Kremlin advisor Gleb Pavlovsky told members of Nashi that they "lacked brutality": "you must be prepared", he went on, "to break up fascist demonstrations and prevent with force any attempt to overthrow the constitution".[16] Critics have compared Nashi to the Soviet Komsomol[17] and the Hitler Youth.[6]

In 2012 Yakemenko confirmed that Nashi in 2010 alone received funding of about 200 million roubles from the Russian state budget.[18]

The group's headquarters is housed in a ₤20m building in the centre of Moscow.[19]

Beliefs and goals[edit]

The children's movement BEARS, Federal project youth movement NASHI

Walking Together leader Vasily Yakemenko said in 2005 that the goal of the new movement is to put an end to the "anti-Fatherland union of oligarchs, anti-Semites, Nazis, and liberals." Several Moscow-based newspapers suggested the goal of the group is actually a bit more specific: to eventually replace the party of power, United Russia.[20] Not all of its goals are politically motivated however. Nashi organizes voluntary work in orphanages and old people's homes, and helps restore churches and war memorials. It also pickets shops accused of selling alcohol and cigarettes to minors, and campaigns against racial intolerance.[21]

Sergei Markov, a Kremlin adviser, stated in 2005 that Nashi "[wants] Russia to be a modern, strong and free country... their ideology is clear: it is modernization of the country and preservation of its sovereignty with that."[22]

One of the movement's main goals is preventing the introduction of foreign control in Russia. Russian newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets quoted Yakemenko as saying that "organizations in Russia are growing, on the basis of which the U.S. will create groups analogous to Serbia's Otpor!, Georgia's Kmara, or Ukraine's Pora. These groups are Eduard Limonov's National Bolshevik Party and Avant Garde Red Youth."[20] Yakemenko expressed his fears that Russia's fate may be similar to that of Ukraine which he considers to have become a "colony of the United States".[23]

Events and incidents[edit]

Demonstration The youth movement NASHI. (Moscow December 17, 2006 )
Demonstration "NASHA VICTORY" The youth movement NASHI. (Moscow May 15, 2010 )
President of Russia Vladimir Putin and commissioners NASHI, Camp Seliger.
July 24, 2007
Voluntary youth Druzhina. Project of the youth movement of NASHI. Surgut, September 5, 2009
NASHA VICTORY - The Federal action of the youth movement of NASHI. Russia, Moscow

On June 26, 2005, with media present, President Vladimir Putin met with a group of Nashi members at his residence in Zavidovo, Tver Oblast. He expressed his support for the group, described as "awestruck" by his presence.[24]

In August 2005 Putin officially invited Yulia Gorodnicheva (b. December 16, 1985), an undergraduate student of Tula State University, one of the members of Nashi he had invited to the Zavidovo meeting, to become a member of the Public Chamber of Russia,[25] but she refused to be selected by the President and on November 15, 2005, entered the second part of the chamber as a representative of Nashi. There she became a member of the Commission on Social Development.[26]

In 2006 members of Nashi conducted a campaign against the British ambassador in Moscow, Tony Brenton, as he attended an opposition conference called Another Russia on July 11–12. He attended along with Putin opposition leaders such as Eduard Limonov, leader of the National Bolsheviks.[27] Unnamed British officials were reported to suspect that this campaign had been co-ordinated by elements within the Russian government as a punishment for the speech given by the ambassador.[28]

In April and May 2007, Nashi members held daily protests in front of the Estonian embassy in Moscow in protest of the moving of the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn to a military cemetery.[29][30] When movement members protested outside the Embassy of Estonia in Moscow in April 2007, some members were carrying signs stating "Wanted. The Ambassador of the Fascist State of eSStonia" (Russian: «Разыскивается посол фашистского государства эSSтония»), in reference to then-Ambassador of Estonia to Russia Marina Kaljurand.[31] Nashi also evoked eSStonia when they accused the Estonian state of cultivating fascism, by removing the Bronze Soldier memorial, the unsolved murder of Dmitry Ganin on Bronze Night, the arrest and detention of Mark Siryk by the Kaitsepolitseiamet on Bronze Night, and the Monument of Lihula to the 20th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Estonian) being built.[32] In early 2008 Estonia placed some Nashi members on a European Union-wide immigration blacklist, leading Nashi to accuse the European Union of violating democratic principles that European officials often accuse Russia of violating.[33]

On 24 July 2007, Putin met with several Russian political and environmental youth organisations, including Nashi, at his residence in Zavidovo, and discussed various issues affecting Russian society. At the meeting, he stated that the United Kingdom was acting like a colonial power with a mindset stuck in the 19th or 20th centuries, due to their belief that Russia could change its constitution, allowing Andrey Lugovoy to be extradited to the UK to face charges in relation to the Alexander Litvinenko affair. He also stated, "They say we should change our Constitution – advice that I view as insulting for our country and our people. They need to change their thinking and not tell us to change our Constitution." [34][35]

In December 2007 the movement was reported to be planning to send a select group of activists to study at British universities, arguably despite its disdain for Britain and its harassment of the British ambassador in Moscow. They said: "We lag behind in knowledge and experience vital for making Russia a 21st-century world leader. British education is rated highly all over the world. The graduates of British universities are in great demand. This is because of the high quality of education and also control from the government."[36]

In March 2009 it was reported that a commisar in Nashi and some associates claimed they had launched a DDOS attack on Estonia in May 2007. The attacks came after Estonia removed a World War II-era Soviet memorial from its capital, provoking protests from Moscow.[37]

On March 23, 2009, a small group of Nashi activists together with the activists of the Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee and Night Watch held a protest in Helsinki, Finland, arranged by Johan Bäckman. They denounced the publication of a new book about the Soviet occupation of Estonia by Sofi Oksanen and Imbi Paju and related seminar and saw the indictment of the occupation as an attack on Russia. Finnish historian and Russia-expert Arto Luukkanen considered the protest as an attempt by a marginal group to get publicity. Oksanen suggested that "Their message is aimed at Russians and the Russian media".[38][39]

On January 18, 2010 activists of Nashi held a rally near the Ukrainian embassy in Moscow and "congratulated" Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko with his defeat in the first round of the presidential election the day before.[40]

On July 30, 2010, Ella Pamfilova (Medvedev's human right's advisor) had to resign over comments she made, saying that Nashi activists had "pawned their souls to the devil" and that she "feared they might to come to power one day", causing Nashi to sue for libel. The Russian opposition commented, claiming that Nashi assaulted and intimidated its leaders.[41]

In December 2011 it was reported that members of Nashi staged large pro-Kremlin demonstrations in response to anti-Putin demonstrations that followed the 2011 legislative election.[42]

Annual Camp Seliger[edit]

Main article: Seliger (forum)

Every summer, Nashi runs recruiting camps all across Russia. New members receive a basic military-style training, according to Nashi leader Vasily Yakimenko. In July 2007, Nashi's annual camp located 200 miles outside Moscow was attended by over 10,000 Nashi members. It involved two weeks of lectures and calisthenics. Some reports mention the use of the camp to improve Russia's demographics,[43] where twenty tents were set up in order to allow twenty newlywed couples to sleep together.[44]

Criticism[edit]

According to Edward Lucas, author of The New Cold War: Putin's Russia and the Threat to the West, Nashi is seen as Russian President Vladimir Putin's version of the Soviet Komsomol.[45]

Nashi has been accused of recruiting skinheads and local hooligans to intimidate rival youth groups.[21] Such activities caused Gavin Knight, an editor for the New Statesman, to draw the conclusion that "Nashi’s true function was as a personality cult for Putin whose job was intimidate, bully and harass his opponents."[46] The movement has evoked comparisons with the Hitler Youth in the mainstream media[6] to the extent that Nashi, together with other pro-Putin youth organizations, were derogatively nicknamed Putinjugend.[47][48][49][50]

Lider (commissioner) NASHI Vasily Yakemenko

A Nashi advertisement was described in a Time magazine article as "reminiscent of Soviet-era propaganda with its non sequitur acceleration of hysteria". The advertisement read: "Tomorrow there will be war in Iran. The day after tomorrow Russia will be governed externally!"[51] The Boston Globe said that "movement's Brownshirt tactics certain evoke shades of Hitler Youth, as does the emphasis on physical fitness, clean living, and procreation for the Motherland".[52] Some[who?] view the emergence of this and, more recently, other similar organisations, such as Young Guard and Locals, as one of the signs of Russia under Putin "sliding into fascism, with state control of the economy, media, politics and society becoming increasingly heavy-handed".[46][53][54]

The National Bolsheviks have accused Nashi of leading attacks on their members, including one in Moscow in August 2005.[55] Liberal youth leader Ilya Yashin has also denounced Nashi as a cover for 'storm brigades' that will use violence against democratic organizations and claimed that their formation is only part of Putin's fear of losing power in a manner similar to the Orange Revolution of Ukraine.[56] One young National Bolshevik, Roman Sadykhov, joined Nashi's sister organisation Rumol (Rus Molodaya, or Young Russia) in order to investigate its activities. He claimed that Rumol had formed a group of 'Ultras' to conduct street battles against members of the opposition.[57] Their training included the construction of smoke bombs. He secretly taped meetings he had attended. At one of the meetings, senior Kremlin staffer Vladislav Surkov said that he found the training for street combat 'terrifically interesting'.[58]

Nashi has been accused of being a group of "football hooligans and racist skinheads" preaching hostility of certain races traditionally targeted by Russian nationalists- such as Chechens, Georgians, Armenians, Azeris, Circassians, Uzbeks, Jews, Poles, etc.[59][60]

British journalists Peter Oborne and James Jones examined the activity of Nashi in a documentary produced for Channel 4's foreign affairs series Unreported World. They described it as a movement originally created to prevent the emergence of a colour revolution-style movement in Russia. They claimed that some members of Nashi are explicitly racist, and met with Russian journalist Oleg Kashin, who alleged that Nashi members were most likely responsible for a severe beating he received in late 2010 after writing an article critical of a business associate of Vladimir Putin. Kashin was beaten with iron bars, and was in a coma for three days due to the assault, in which he received two broken legs and a broken jaw, as well as a severed finger. Oborne and Jones accused Nashi of fostering a cult of personality around Putin, redolent of historical leaders such as Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great and Joseph Stalin.[61]

Payments[edit]

In an article published in The Guardian in December 2011, mention was made of reports that some Nashi members were being paid to attend rallies.[19] This was based on a Moscow Times report saying that a journalist overheard a demonstrator telling another that he only participated in a particular rally because he had been paid 500 rubles,[62] and on a Time article that quoted pro-Kremlin activists as saying that free meals at McDonald's were one of their main rewards for attending the rallies.[63]

Allegations of spying on opposition groups[edit]

V Congress of the youth movement NASHI

In early February 2009, Anna Bukovskaya, a St. Petersburg activist with Nashi, publicly claimed[64] that from January 2008 until February 2009 she had coordinated a group of 30 young people (not Nashi members) who had been tasked to infiltrate branches of the banned National Bolshevik Party, Yabloko's youth wing and United Civil Front in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Voronezh and six other cities. Bukovskaya said that the agents were to inform her, and she, in turn, passed the information to senior Nashi official Dmitry Golubyatnikov, who was allegedly in contact with "Surkov's people" in the Kremlin. The agents, who were paid 20,000 rubles ($550) per month, provided information on planned and past events together with pictures and personal information on activists and leaders, including their contact numbers. On February 3, 2009, Bukovskaya told Youth Yabloko, which she had joined six weeks prior, that she was being paid to monitor their activities and to handle people in other opposition groups.[64][65]

The creation of a political party[edit]

On May 21, 2012, Vasily Yakemenko, the leader of the movement of NASHI reported on the establishment of a political party, SMART RUSSIA.[66][67] Two days later, at the Congress of Nashi movement, it was decided to establish a political party, Party Chairman SMART RUSSIA was elected Commissioner of Nikita Borovikov. On June 20, the party was officially registered by the Ministry of Justice of Russia [68]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Putin’s youth brigade targets Britain, by Mark Franchetti, The Sunday Times, September 2, 2007
  2. ^ Babes 'n arms, by Oliver Harvey, The Sun, October 8, 2007
  3. ^ http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9122-14.cfm
  4. ^ "Газета.Ру: Движение "Наши" ликвидируется". Grani.ru. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  5. ^ Birgit Beumers, Stephen Hutchings, Natalia Rulyova, "The post-Soviet Russian media: conflicting signals", Taylor & Francis, 2009, pg. 153, [1]
  6. ^ a b c
  7. ^ Wenkart, Michael (2014). You are the target !: Or do you believe your government is always watching the others?. BoD. p. 193. ISBN 9783735793553. 
  8. ^ Fürst, Juliane (2010). Stalin's Last Generation: Soviet Post-War Youth and the Emergence of Mature Socialism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780191614507. 
  9. ^ Harding, Luke (2011). Mafia State: How One Reporter Became an Enemy of the Brutal New Russia. Guardian Books. ISBN 9780852652503. 
  10. ^ Saunders, Robert A.; Strukov, Vlad (2010). Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. Scarecrow Press. p. 402. ISBN 9780810874602. 
  11. ^ Pravda, link broken
  12. ^ Preempting Politics In Russia. By Masha Lipman The Washington Post July 25, 2005.
  13. ^ Putin's young 'brownshirts'. (First part) By Cathy Young, The Boston Globe August 10, 2007.
  14. ^ Gazeta.ru, Политический киндер-сюрприз, 2.10.2005 (Russian)
  15. ^ The Kremlin has a new weapon in its war on real or imagined enemies, from opponents at home to foreign revolutionaries. By Owen Matthews and Anna Nemtsova Newsweek International May 28, 2007
  16. ^ 'Putins Prügeltrupp', Focus, 2 April 2007, pp.172-4 (p.174)
  17. ^ Birgit Beumers, Stephen Hutchings, Natalia Rulyova, "The post-Soviet Russian media: conflicting signals", Taylor & Francis, 2009, pg. 153, [2]
  18. ^ "Пока не загорятся здания". Lenta.ru. 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2012-01-17. 
  19. ^ a b Putin's youth movement provides a sinister backdrop to Russia's protests, Guardian, retrieved 15/12/2011
  20. ^ a b Analysis: Walking With Putin y Julie A. Corwin, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 2005-03-02.
  21. ^ a b The Kremlin's new commissars by Tim Whewell, BBC News.
  22. ^ Discussion of speech freedom at Russian Radio Freedom, April 19, 2005
  23. ^ Perspicacity Online, link broken
  24. ^ Putin Plays Host to 56 Nashi Youth by Stephen Boykewich. The Moscow Times, #3217, July 27, 2005.
  25. ^ Nashi activist to become a member of the Public Chamber by Mikhail Vinogradov et al., Izvestia, August 30, 2005 (in Russian).
  26. ^ Городничева Юлия Михайловна
  27. ^ Russian youths 'hound UK envoy', BBC News, December 8, 2006.
  28. ^ Russian regime is accused of intimidating British interests, The Times, 2006-12-09.
  29. ^ Estonia closes Moscow consulate, citing security, RIA Novosti, April 28, 2007
  30. ^ EU protests over Russian attacks on ambassadors. by Ian Traynor The Guardian May 3, 2007.
  31. ^ Boronov, Alexander; Shevchuk, Mikhail (21 June 2007). Между прокремлевскими движениями посеяли рознь (in Russian). Saint Petersburg: Kommersant. Retrieved 2008-12-27. 
  32. ^ "Липецк: Господин Лавров, скажите: "НЕТ" Эssтонскому беспределу!" (in Russian). Nashi. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  33. ^ Estonia Bans Travel for Kremlin Youth Group New York Times
  34. ^ Putin Lashes Out at Nashi Gathering by David Nowak, The St. Petersburg Times, Issue #1292 (58), 2007-07-27.
  35. ^ "Выдержки из стенографического отчета о встрече с представителями молодежных организаций России". Zavidovo, Tver Oblast: President of Russia. 24 July 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-28.  English translation
  36. ^ Putin's youth head to British universities. By Will Stewart telegraph.co.uk Dec 28, 2007.
  37. ^ Clover, Charles (11 March 2009). "Kremlin-backed group behind Estonia cyber blitz". Moscow: Financial Times. Retrieved 2009-03-12.  (Archived at WebCite)
  38. ^ "Helsingin Sanomat - International Edition - Culture". Hs.fi. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  39. ^ "Helsingin Sanomat - International Edition - Home". Hs.fi. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  40. ^ Nashi mocks 'Orange' policy in rally near Ukraine's embassy, Kyiv Post (January 18, 2010)
  41. ^ [3][dead link]
  42. ^ Elder, Miriam (6 December 2011). "Russian election: police, troops and youth groups stifle anti-Putin protests". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  43. ^ Putin's young 'brownshirts'. By Cathy Young The Boston Globe August 10, 2007
  44. ^ Harding, Luke (24 July 2008). "Welcome to Putin's summer camp ...". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-03-06. 
  45. ^ Edward Lucas The New Cold War: Putin's Russia and the Threat to the West , Palgrave Macmillan (February 19, 2008), ISBN 0-230-60612-1, page 79.
  46. ^ a b The alarming spread of fascism in Putin’s Russia. by Gavin Knight New Statesman 24 July 2007.
  47. ^ Eesti Päevaleht 26 July 2007: HEIKI SUURKASK: Kiri Eesti ainsatele fašistidele by Heiki Suurkask
  48. ^ Eesti Päevaleht 29 January 2008 12:00: Eesti tugev löök "Hitlerjugendi" vastu, edited by Ravil Khair Al-Din
  49. ^ Juku-Kalle Raid: Našid ja vašid, published in Delfi 18 September 2007 16:55
  50. ^ Putin’s Pariah by Andrew Meier, The New York Times
  51. ^ "A Tsar Is Born - TIME". Time. 
  52. ^ Putin's young 'brownshirts'. By Cathy Young The Boston Globe August 10, 2007.
  53. ^ Sex for the motherland: Russian youths encouraged to procreate at camp. By Edward Lucas, Daily Mail 29th July 2007.
  54. ^ Is Putin the bully leading Russia into fascism? by Michael Binyon The Times June 5, 2007.
  55. ^ Batting a Thousand, Kommersant, 2005-08-13.
  56. ^ Russian youth on political barricades by Leonid Ragozin, BBC News, 2005-03-03.
  57. ^ ... как Кремль формирует боевые отряды из своих юных сторонников. New Times №46 Dec 24, 2007.
  58. ^ 'Putins Prügeltrupp', p.172
  59. ^ Ames, Mark; Zaitchik, Alexander (September 10, 2007). "Skinhead Violence Rising in Russia". The Nation. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  60. ^ Daniel Kummage (2006-04-24). "Russia: Politics Enters The Mix In Official Response To Murders". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 
  61. ^ [[Peter Oborne|Oborne, Peter]]; Jones, James (29 October 2011). "Unreported World: Vlad's Army - Putin's brave new world". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  62. ^ "250 Held in 2nd Night of Vote Protests". The Moscow Times. 7 December 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2011. 
  63. ^ "The Empire Strikes Back: Putin Sends in the Storm Troopers". Time. 7 December 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2011. 
  64. ^ a b "Nashi Activist Tells of Snooping for Kremlin". The Moscow Times. 6 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  65. ^ "Шпионаши". Novaya gazeta. 16 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  66. ^ From movement Nashi create a party
  67. ^ Vasily Yakemenko announced the creation party of the people of the future
  68. ^ Party SMART RUSSIA on the website of the Ministry of Justice of Russia