Putin emulates Lenin and founds a new “patriotic” youth | International
is the headline of the news that the author of WTM News has collected this article. Stay tuned to WTM News to stay up to date with the latest news on this topic. We ask you to follow us on social networks.
On May 19, 1922, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union – the only legal party at the time – founded the Vladimir Lenin Pioneers Organization to indoctrinate the population from childhood. Just a century later, Vladimir Putin’s party has revived the idea and brought to Parliament the creation of a youth movement “for all Russia” that will be controlled by the president and that aspires to “promote state policies in the interests of the children and young people” and “encourage them to assume their responsibility with the destiny of the country”.
In the absence of knowing more details, one of the differences between the two movements is that the name of the new organization will not honor the leader of the moment, despite the fact that Putin has ruled Russia for 22 years —Lenin led the Soviet Union for seven—. The new youth organization will be called Bolshaya Peremena (Great Pause, in Russian), alluding to the school holidays.
The bill, presented by several deputies from United Russia (Putin’s party) in the State Duma, includes in its second article – the one referring to the great objectives of the movement – that it “will participate in the education of children; in their professional orientation and in the organization of leisure activities”.
The goal of the Bolshaya Peremena is “to prepare children and young people for a full life in society”; inculcate in them “a worldview based on Russian spiritual and moral traditions and values”; as well as “love and respect for the country” and other “moral qualities”, which include “legal culture and respect for nature and the environment”. In addition, the founding charter also includes the possibility of “pursuing other socially useful purposes”.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
These purposes tie in with the Kremlin’s view that Russia is in a “war” with Western democracies to protect itself from globalization. President Putin warned in his Victory Day speech over the Nazis on May 9 that Russia “is a different country” and will never renounce “love of the homeland, faith, traditional values and customs of the ancestors.
Since Putin came to power there have been other attempts to recover this type of organization, although an implementation similar to that of the old Soviet youths was never achieved. A little less than a decade ago, the Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigú, implanted the Yunármiya “patriotic, military and national” movement in schools, which gives points for university entrance exams, gives away uniforms or takes its members to parade in Red Square. Previously, in 2005, the presidential administration founded Nashi (Ours), whose acronym stands for Anti-Fascist Democratic Youth Movement, and which did not achieve the same impact as the Pioneers.
under the control of the president
The new youth movement will accept children from the age of six and will be voluntary. So were the Pioneers promoted by the Komsomol, the youth organization of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. At the end of 2021, the lawyer and finance specialist Saule Omarova recounted her experience as pioneer after becoming Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the US Currency Control Office and being attacked for having been in the organization as a young man. Omarova explained in the Senate that not entering these groups later prevented access to some jobs or social assistance. In fact, the influence of Bolshaya Peremena could extend to adults when looking for work, since the bill foresees that the organization implement “additional professional programs, including advanced training, professional retraining and educational with children” .
The movement will have adults, called “mentors”, to direct its activities, although access will be denied to all people who appear on the “black list” of foreign agents drawn up by the Kremlin. After the latest legal reforms, this label is not only received by those who have obtained some type of external financing for their activity, including awards, but also by those who “carry out political actions aimed at influencing and changing state policy and public opinion”.
The Kremlin’s control over this youth movement will be total. The Supervisory Council will be headed by the Russian president, who will elect and remove the head of the Bolshaya Peremena board of directors. In addition, the branches of this organization will reach all corners of Russia: its founding charter provides that it will have representatives in all schools, and outside educational institutions it will also have regional and municipal branches.
The Z in schools
Putin’s government fuses in its plan to exalt patriotism elements from times as disparate as the tsarist empire and the communism that overthrew it. For example, the Government has celebrated for days the anniversary of the Pioneers just a week and a half after covering up Lenin’s mausoleum during the commemoration of Victory Day, when the colors black and orange, related to the imperial order of Saint George, they were exalted as the new national emblem.
At the same time, propaganda has sought to coin its own symbols: the letters Z and V painted on the tanks that attack Ukraine. But identification among the population has been much lower. Even Russians who consider themselves patriotic associate these letters with extreme positions. Despite this, both these symbols and imperial ties have been present in many schools since the conflict began.
It is not uncommon to see every so often on Telegram channels a video or image where children draw a Z around their school guided by teachers, or as has been the case in a hospital for minors with terminal illnesses in Kazan. The newspaper The Moscow Timesdeclared a foreign agent, contacted several schools where these actions have been carried out and many minors said they had been pressured to participate.
However, the Ministry of Defense, when asked about this controversial symbology by a deputy from Moscow, has decided to distance itself from its use: “It is not official nor does it have a special meaning.” “I hope that this will avoid judging the attitude of each one towards those letters of foreign alphabets,” parliamentarian Evgueni Stupín stressed on Telegram. Despite this, in April, in a town in Tula, a mother was denounced by a teacher because she removed the Z’s that had been hung from the windows of a nursery. “It is a desecration of the symbols of our State,” said the teacher while she recorded it in a video that has gone viral.
That same month, in Penza, a 55-year-old teacher who had worked all her life in the same school was recorded by two students talking to them about the offensive in Ukraine. Her criticism not only cost her her job, but also a trial for the new law that punishes with a fine, and even up to 15 years in prison, “discrediting the Armed Forces.” Both she and the woman from Tula have witnessed the return of the denunciation, as in the worst Soviet times, when any criticism was considered treason.
Follow all the international information in Facebook Y Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.
Exclusive content for subscribers
read without limits