(photo from Stern.de)
Once upon a time the Hitler Jugend were rallying around a strong Nationalistic and militaristic leader.
Today we have the Putin Youth in the photograph above:
Nikita Borovikov looks like he could be with the Young Republicans. Sporting a smart smile, suit pants, and carefully styled hair -- and constantly fiddling with his mobile phone -- he could easily be mistaken for a 26-year-old in Germany, France, or America. But the comparisons with the West come to a screeching halt when this doctor of law begins to speak. "In Russia," he says, "the nation needs a strong leader."
Borovikov is head of the youth organization Nashi, which means "Ours," the battle cry Russian football fans use to cheer on their national team. The organization has thousands of members across the country -- and they are blindly devoted to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Those who think badly of us call us Putin's troops," says Borovikov. "Everyone else says we are nationally-oriented youths."
Or, rather, peripatitic nationally oriented youths. Nashi is practically omnipresent in Russia and they stay busy with a full schedule of social events. "We don't just talk about children's homes," says Borovikov. "We collect money and renovate one ourselves." Their public blood drives are particularly popular. Nashi supporters set up in city centers across Russia and donate blood right in front of passers-by. "The hospitals lack blood donors. So, we call for donations," says Borovikov.
The benevolence, though, is just a by-product. The main objective of Nashi is a powerful Russia -- with a tinge of nationalism -- united behind a strong president.
Putin seems to be achieving cult-leader status among right-leaning youth in Russia. Too young to really remember the Soviet Union, the group is attracted to a powerful Executive. Possibly Kremlin-funded, they are well organized, in a way most grass-roots movements never achieve, at least in the short amount of time Nashi has been active.
Typically, those who get involved in Nashi are full of ambition, and membership in the group often leads to rapid career advancement. Borovikov's predecessor at the head of Nashi, 36-year-old Vasily Yakemenko, is now working for the government, having been handed leadership of the State Committee for Youth Affairs just a few weeks ago. Even the group's foot soldiers profit from their affiliation with Nashi. At this year's summer camp, there was a Gazprom tent where members could apply directly for an internship with the state-controlled energy giant.
Sounds like the Young Republicans, scary. Yet no more scary than some of the Nationalistic crap being spewed in this country by Right-wingers:
Nah, no direct links. Just go read just about any post at Dave Neiwert's place. Most of the posts deal with Right-wing hate. Wear sturdy shoes, and take a shower afterward. Dave's a brave man.