Sex for the
motherland: Russian youths encouraged to procreate at camp
dailymail.co.uk ^ | 27th July 2007 | Edward Lucas
Posted on 07/28/2007 9:09:58 AM PDT by Tailgunner Joe
Remember the mammoths, say the clean-cut organisers
at the youth camp's mass wedding. "They became extinct because they did
not have enough sex. That must not happen to
Obediently, couples move to a special section of dormitory tents arranged in a heart-shape and called the Love Oasis, where they can start procreating for the motherland.
With its relentlessly upbeat tone, bizarre ideas and tight control, it sounds like a weird indoctrination session for a phoney religious cult.
But this organisation - known as "Nashi", meaning "Ours" - is youth movement run by Vladimir Putin's Kremlin that has become a central part of Russian political life.
Nashi's annual camp, 200 miles outside
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
But the real aim of the youth camp - and the 100,000-strong movement behind
it - is not to improve
Under Mr Putin,
At the start, it was all too easy to mock. I attended an early event run by
its predecessor, 'Walking together', in the heart of
It was sinister in theory, recalling the Nazis' book-burning in the 1930s, but it was laughable in practice. There was no sign of ordinary members of the public handing in books (the copies piled on the pavement had been brought by the organisers).
Once the television cameras had left, the event organisers admitted that they were not really volunteers, but being paid by "sponsors". The idea that Russia's anarchic, apathetic youth would ever be attracted into a disciplined mass movement in support of their president - what critics called a "Putinjugend", recalling the "Hitlerjugend" (German for "Hitler Youth") - seemed fanciful.
How wrong we were. Life for young people in
Nashi's senior officials - known, in an eerie echo
of the Soviet era, as "Commissars" - get free places at top
universities. Thereafter, they can expect good jobs in politics or business -
Nashi and similar outfits are the Kremlin's first line of defence against its greatest fear: real democracy. Like the sheep chanting "Four legs good, two legs bad" in George Orwell's Animal Farm, they can intimidate through noise and numbers.
Nashi supporters drown out protests by
The group's leaders insist that the only connection to officialdom is loyalty to the president. If so, they seem remarkably well-informed.
In July 2006, the British ambassador, Sir Anthony Brenton, infuriated the Kremlin by attending an opposition meeting. For months afterwards, he was noisily harassed by groups of Nashi supporters demanding that he "apologise". With uncanny accuracy, the hooligans knew his movements in advance - a sign of official tip-offs.
Even when Nashi flagrantly breaks the law, the
authorities do not intervene. After
Nashi fits perfectly into the Kremlin's
newly-minted ideology of "Sovereign democracy". This is not the
mind-numbing jargon of Marxism-Leninism, but a lightweight collection of cliches and slogans promoting
It is strongly reminiscent of the Tsarist era slogan: "Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationality".
The similarities to both the Soviet and Tsarist eras are striking. Communist ideologues once spent much of their time explaining why their party deserved its monopoly of power, even though the promised utopia seemed indefinitely delayed.
Today, the Kremlin's ideology chief Vladislav Surkov is trying to
explain why questioning the crooks and spooks who run
Yet, by comparison with other outfits, Nashi looks
relatively civilised. Its racism and prejudice is
implied, but not trumpeted. Other pro-Kremlin youth groups are hounding gays
and foreigners off the streets of
These showed a young blonde Russian refusing a ride from a swarthy, beetle-browed taxi driver, under the slogan: "We're not going the same way."
Such unofficial xenophobia matches the official stance. On April 1, a decree
explicitly backed by Mr Putin
banned foreigners from trading in
Those who hoped that
Slogans such as "
The Kremlin sees no role for a democratic opposition, denouncing its leaders as stooges and traitors. Sadly, most Russians agree: a recent poll showed that a majority believed that opposition parties should not be allowed to take power.
Just as the Nazis in 1930s rewrote
While distorting its own history, the Kremlin denounces other countries. Mr Putin was quick to blame Britain's "colonial mentality" for our government's request that Russia try to find a legal means of extraditing Andrei Lugovoi, the prime suspect in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.
Yet the truth is that
A new guide for history teachers - explicitly endorsed by Mr Putin - brushes off Stalin's
crimes. It describes him as "the most successful leader of the
"Political repression was used to mobilise not only rank-and-file citizens but also the ruling elite," it says. In other words, Stalin wanted to make the country strong, so he may have been a bit harsh at times. At any time since the collapse of Soviet totalitarianism in the late 1980s, that would have seemed a nauseating whitewash. Now, it is treated as bald historical fact.
If Stalin made mistakes, so what? Lots of people make mistakes.
"Problematic pages in our history exist," Mr
Putin said last week. But: "we have less than
some countries. And ours are not as terrible as those of some others." He
compared the Great Terror of 1937, when 700,000 people were murdered in a purge
by Stalin's secret police, to the atom bomb on
The comparison is preposterous. A strong argument can be made that by ending the war quickly, the atom bombs saved countless lives.
Franklin D Roosevelt and Harry Truman-may have failed to realise that nuclear weapons would one day endanger humanity's survival. But, unlike Stalin, they were not genocidal maniacs.
As the new cold war deepens, Mr Putin echoes, consciously or unconsciously, the favourite weapon of Soviet propagandists in the last one.
But the contrasts even then were absurd. When the American administration
For the east European countries with first-hand experience of Stalinist
terror, the Kremlin's rewriting of history could hardly be more
scary. Not only does
Terrifyingly, the revived Soviet view of history is now widely held in
If tens of thousands of uniformed German youngsters were marching across