Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Putin Youth Brigades

By Aussiegirl

In another ominous sign of increasing authoritarianism Russia comes word that Putin is training youth brigades to counter increasing anti-government demonstrations. The group under the umbrella of Putin's "cultural" society called "Walking Together" is to be called "Nashi" -- meaning "ours" -- a word which has powerful nationalist overtones in Russian and will more closely resemble the Hitler Youth than the Boy Scouts.

Putin's popularity is rapidly sinking, even among his staunchest supporters, the pensioners and old timers, since he cut their pension transport and other benefits. There have been continuing and disruptive demonstrations all across Russia as the so-called "Babushka" (grandmother) rebellion takes hold.

Just like in Lebanon, where the man behind the curtain seems to have been unmasked as an impotent fraud, the people in Russia are beginning to become disillusioned with Putin. A time-honored tactic of Soviet police and intelligence sources has always been to cause the famous or infamous "provocation". This is a word which was heard constantly during the tense days of the Orange Revolution in Independence Square in Kyiv and across Ukraine and was probably not understood by those in the west. "Provocations" are deliberately created disruptions, fights or incidents meant to discredit the opposition or to create an incident which gives authorities a pretext to wade into the crowds with force and to end demonstrations violently while blaming the victims.

During the Orange Revolution an attempt was made to organize something of the sort when pro-Yanukovych counter-demonstrators were bused in from Donetsk and other eastern regions. These seemed at the time to consist mostly of older and mostly drunken men waving banners and shouting obscenities. They even set up a tent city for them. But the demonstrations came to very little, as the pro-Yushchenko groups either shouted them down or in many cases visited their tent cities to offer them hospitality and reasonable conversation. Within a short time most had either come over to the Yushenko camp once they learned the truth of what was really going on, and the rest had gone home.

By organizing these brigades of storm troopers and other types who are more than willing to do the government's bidding, Putin hopes to disrupt any major demonstrations which may develop in the future. Already,
according to the article in the Telegraph, two outsiders who attempted to infiltrate a meeting of the group have been beaten up.

Read more:

. . . 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." Ilya Yashin, youth leader of the opposition party Yabloko and one of the two liberals who gatecrashed the conference, said: "Our apprehensions about the Kremlin's intentions to form assault units to fight the opposition have been confirmed. Under the Nashi slogan the Kremlin is forming brigades of storm-troopers so that they can use force against the opposition."

Mr Yashin gave two examples where opposition activists were beaten by unknown assailants with shaved heads after attending anti-government rallies.


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