Monday, July 30, 2007

Putin Youth

There's a disturbing trend towards authoritarianism afoot worldwide. Here at home, it's mostly a mishmash of corporatism, ham-handed Homeland Security hassles and an increasing proliferation of cameras, wire-tapping and other intrusions into personal space and communication.

But in Russia, it's as dark as it gets.

Putin has been busying himself with consolidating control over a resurgently nationalistic Russia in a number of different ways--some absolutely thuggish, even murderous--but even I was taken aback when I read an article in the London Daily Mail (HT: Drudge Report) about a Russian youth group called Nashi (meaning "Us"):

Nashi's annual camp, 200 miles outside Moscow, is attended by 10,000 uniformed youngsters and involves two weeks of lectures and physical fitness.

Attendance is monitored via compulsory electronic badges and anyone who misses three events is expelled. So are drinkers; alcohol is banned. But sex is encouraged, and condoms are nowhere on sale.

Bizarrely, young women are encouraged to hand in thongs and other skimpy underwear - supposedly a cause of sterility - and given more wholesome and substantial undergarments.

Twenty-five couples marry at the start of the camp's first week and ten more at the start of the second. These mass weddings, the ultimate expression of devotion to the motherland, are legal and conducted by a civil official.

Attempting to raise Russia's dismally low birthrate even by eccentric-seeming means might be understandable. Certainly, the country's demographic outlook is dire. The hard-drinking, hardsmoking and disease-ridden population is set to plunge by a million a year in the next decade.

But the real aim of the youth camp - and the 100,000-strong movement behind it - is not to improve Russia's demographic profile, but to attack democracy.

Under Mr Putin, Russia is sliding into fascism, with state control of the economy, media, politics and society becoming increasingly heavy-handed. And Nashi, along with other similar youth movements, such as 'Young Guard', and 'Young Russia', is in the forefront of the charge.

Scary stuff.


At 7:38 PM, Blogger dorsey said...

I went to a church like that.

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

...and then you woke up and shoved your jammy bottoms into the bottom of the hamper, right?

At 4:42 AM, Blogger dorsey said...

Jammy bottoms? I had to change the whole bed.


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