Yevgenia Zubchenko and Kira Vasilieva
The Kremlin is encouraging juvenile delinquency, said Yevgenia Zubchenko and Kira Vasilieva in the Moscow Novye Izvestia. Youth groups that support President Vladimir Putin can get away with all kinds of crimes that would land pro-democracy activists in jail. The most popular pro-Kremlin clubs “actually engage in political campaigns that verge on extremism, promoting xenophobia.” The biggest of the Soviet-style youth groups, Nashi, sought retaliation for Estonia’s removal of a Soviet statue from downtown Tallinn. Its first attempt at protest—sending Nashi activists to stand in Tallinn’s main square posing as “mock statues”—was legitimate. But then Nashi hackers brought the Estonian government to a standstill with cyber-attacks on Estonian Web sites—and none of them was punished. Even the Nashi activists who “threw excrement” at a British ambassador’s car after he visited dissidents went unpunished. Another group, Young Russia, claims to promote education and science, but in practice it “focuses all its efforts on disrupting opposition events,” shouting insults or throwing rocks. How convenient: The kids get to act out. The Kremlin gets volunteers to do its dirty work. Everybody wins—except those who believe in democracy.
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