MOSCOW - The Kremlin has established a youth group to promote the interests of President Putin and to undermine the increasingly frequent anti-Putin
demonstrations in Moscow and other large cities throughout Russia. Leftist protesters report acts of violence from the group and claim the presence of
agents povocateur placed within their ranks.
Hundreds of youths, many belonging to the president's cultural society "Walking Together", held a meeting in a house owned by the Kremlin Property
Department to launch the group at the weekend. The organisation, which leaders hope will attract 300,000 members, was christened "Nashi" [Ours], a
word which in Russian has chilling nationalist overtones.
In the eyes of many, the tactics are more reminiscent of the Hitler Youth of pre-war Germany than of the supposed democracy in Russia whose health Mr
Putin indignantly defended when he met President George W Bush last week. Andrei Pointkowsky, director of the Centre for Strategic Studies, said:
"Putin is behind this. Scared by the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Kremlin is trying to form a Putin Jugend to suppress future opposition.
"Putin has had a catastrophic loss of authority. People are finally beginning to realise that the emperor has no clothes."
Mystery Protesters Turn Out to Provoke Trouble
MOSCOW - Yelena Kashirina says she knows almost everyone from the Moscow chapter of Red Youth Vanguard. But when the leftist group stages
demonstrations, dozens of young people she doesn't know mysteriously show up.
The anonymous protesters wear the right clothes and chant the right catchphrases, but then they become aggressive, causing the police to step in and
break things up. "After that they disappear immediately," said Kashirina, 19.
Red Youth Vanguard and other left-leaning political groups believe their rallies are being targeted and infiltrated by agents provocateur planted by
the police and Federal Security Service, or FSB. The goal, they say, is to surreptitiously undermine and marginalize anti-government demonstrations,
especially in light of the widespread protests over social reforms that have prompted calls for the resignation of President Vladimir Putin and the
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A poltical and social tactic such as this will draw obvious analogies to the infamous "Hitller Youth Brigade". The eyes of the world are increasingly
directed to Russia as she shows faint signs of losing ground in the stability stakes. As President Putin endeavours to retain power and influence, and
democracy in Russia continues to experience growing pains, we can only speculate as to how it will mature.
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