06MOSCOW12717, RUSSIAN YOUTH POLITICS, OR LACK THEREOF: PART 2 OF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW12717 2006-11-30 17:10 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2929
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2717/01 3341710
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 301710Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5562
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 012717 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PINR RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN YOUTH POLITICS, OR LACK THEREOF: PART 2 OF 
2 
 
REF: 2005 MOSCOW 3617 
 
Classified By: A/PolMin Counselor Colin Cleary: Reason 1.4(b/d) 
 
 1. (C) SUMMARY. This is the second part of a two-part 
message describing Russian political youth groups. Russia's 
youth is overwhelmingly apolitical, and youth groups in 
general have very little impact on political life in Russia. 
The small bit of political life that does exist is restricted 
to the margins or co-opted by the Kremlin.  The political 
youth groups, driven by idealism, can be divided into the 
democrats, the communists, and the nationalists/skinheads. 
The skinheads are most numerous, but generally unorganized. 
The Kremlin fears the emergence of an "Orange" movement, and 
systematically  moves to diffuse grassroots youth movements 
using either carbon-copy groups or harassment and 
intimidation.  Kremlin fears of a democratic uprising are 
unfounded, as the democratically-oriented youth groups are 
paralyzed by infighting and the overwhelming apathy of 
Russia's youth.  END SUMMARY. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
Russian Youth Interests: Sex and Money 
-------------------------------------- 
 
2. (U) According to our contacts among politicians, 
journalists, and academics, the overwhelming majority of 
Russian youth are simply not interested in politics.  This 
large non-political group can be subdivided into three parts: 
those who simply do not care about politics, those who do 
care but think that fighting the system is pointless, and 
those who fear the consequences of participating in political 
organizations. Yevgeniya Zubchenko, a Novaya Izvestiya 
reporter who covers youth politics told us, "Young people 
here care about sex and money, they care about finding a good 
job. They know there is money now in Russia, and they want a 
piece of it." 
 
3. (C) Ilya Yashin, the head of the Yabloko party's youth 
movement, cited the difficulty he has both recruiting and 
keeping people in his organization because they feel that the 
powers-that-be are too strong and too entrenched for any 
youth movements to make a difference.  This difficulty has 
only grown with time.  Some who have been involved in 
politics have been frightened away by threats from the 
security services or their academic institutions (see paras 
9-11 below). 
 
-------------------- 
Attack of the Clones 
-------------------- 
 
4. (U) The Kremlin-backed groups, Nashi ("Ours") and Mestnye 
("Locals"), have mounted a coordinated effort to co-opt 
grassroots political movements among Russia's youth. Most 
youth groups use political protests to express themselves, to 
win attention from the media, and to attract members.  The 
Kremlin-backed groups rarely attack grassroots groups 
head-on, but instead mimic them while emphasizing their own 
loyalty to the president and to Russia.  For example, 
following a Yabloko protest against the military draft, 
Mestnye staged a larger counter-protest.  They claimed that 
they were also in favor of some military reforms, but in 
general, they supported Putin and the Russian army. 
 
5. (U) The Kremlin-backed groups also mimic nationalist 
movements.  Following the nationalist Russia March on 
November 4, Mestnye parroted the better-known Movement 
Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) and adopted an 
anti-immigration attitude.  On November 26, it sponsored a 
protest by a reported 6,000 youths at Moscow-region farmers 
markets and conducted spot checks on market workers' work 
permits.  Mestnye members turned over to the militia 73 
workers who lacked proper documentation.  According to 
Yashin, these tactics successfully siphon away support from 
the grassroots organization by dividing and confusing 
potential supporters. 
 
6. (C) Kremlin-backed youth groups are often used to 
reinforce Russian foreign policy by staging protests at 
foreign embassies. Mestnye has recently been used to conduct 
protests at the U.S. and Georgian embassies.  Nashi has been 
staging a continuous harassment campaign against British 
Ambassador Tony Brenton following his appearance at the 
"Other Russia" conference in July. The British Embassy told 
us that they had appealed to the MFA for increased diplomatic 
security following an altercation between an embassy guard 
and a member of Nashi at the Ambassador's residence. 
 
7. (U) According to several sources, Nashi and Mestnye both 
pay people to participate in their protests.  Nashi 
 
MOSCOW 00012717  002 OF 003 
 
 
reportedly pays protesters 100-300 rubles, and Mestnye 
sometimes pays with McDonald's vouchers.  Zubchenko told us 
that when she covered one Mestnye protest, most people there 
did not know what they were protesting; they were there for 
the money. 
 
----------------------------- 
Electoral Success and Failure 
----------------------------- 
 
8. (U) Not all activity is focused on the streets. Molodaya 
Gvardiya has been successful in actually helping young people 
become active in politics.  During the last year, Molodaya 
Gvardiya has held a series
 of contests called Politzavod 
("Political Factory") to find and develop candidates.  In 
this successful combination of entertainment and politics, 
contestants participate in a "Survivor"-type contest where 
they organize public events and compete in speech contests 
before a voting audience.  United Russia offers winners a 
position on their legislative party lists.  In the October 
regional elections, United Russia fulfilled its pledge to 
fill 20 percent of its regional party lists with candidates 
under age 28 by using the winners of Politzavod, and 31 
United Russia candidates between 21 and 28 years of age were 
elected. Molodaya Gvardiya leader Andrey Turchak was 
nominated by United Russia as a replacement Federation 
Council member from the Nenets Autonomous District following 
the forced resignation of his predecessor. He was also 
recently mentioned as a candidate for membership in United 
Russia's Supreme Council. 
 
9. (U) In contrast, opposition youth movement leaders have 
been stymied in their electoral bids.  Mariya Gaydar ran for 
State Duma in the Fall of 2005, Ilya Yashin ran for Moscow 
City Duma (winning 17% of the vote), but both were defeated. 
They have since resorted to small protests and the occasional 
stunt. Gaydar and Yashin were arrested on November 23 for 
hanging a large banner from a Moscow bridge that read 
"Return the Elections to the People, Bastards!" They were 
protesting the recent changes to the electoral law that 
removed the minimum voter turnout requirements. Gaydar told 
us that this did not mark a change in tactics for DA!, but 
was a specific response to a specific government action. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
Government Monitoring and Intimidation 
-------------------------------------- 
 
10. (C) The government has used police and legal means to 
harass and intimidate participants in youth movements. Yashin 
told us that after two of his colleagues from Yabloko were 
arrested last year, an FSB agent approached him and said, 
"Your girlfriend will be next, and it will not be pretty for 
her in jail."  The agent reportedly offered to help Yashin's 
girlfriend avoid jail if Yashin would meet with him two times 
a month to tell the FSB about what he was planning and what 
Yabloko was doing.  "So, I met with him. What else could I 
do? But I didn't tell him anything that wasn't on our 
website, and after a few meetings, he stopped calling." 
Yashin said that many people would be scared off by the 
possibility of arrest. 
 
11. (C) Yashin also said that many of his members have been 
harassed at home and at school.  For example, police have 
visited students in their dormitories to question them about 
their membership and activities, police officers have warned 
parents to keep their children out of trouble, and school 
officials have threatened members with expulsion or poor 
grades if they continued to participate in youth movements. 
Gaydar told us that the press secretary of "Other Russia" 
(who is a Moldovan), was warned by the FSB that she would not 
be able to finish her final year at MGU if she continued her 
political activities.  When DA! attempted to hold a debate 
between DPNI Chairman Belov and Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov 
at a Moscow nightclub, the authorities threatened to cut the 
club's electricity, and the club canceled the event. (Note: 
Since previous DA! debates had not faced problems, it appears 
that this action was aimed at DPNI, not DA! End Note). 
 
12. (SBU) According to Pribylovskiy, there are nearly 100 
young people in prison for political actions, mainly from the 
National Bolshevik Party, who are serving terms of five or 
six years for participating in protests that involved the 
storming of government ministries. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
13. (C) Youth movements have stagnated or declined in 
strength and influence since we last reported on this topic 
 
MOSCOW 00012717  003 OF 003 
 
 
(reftel).  Russian youth are politically apathetic (the 
military draft is the sole issue that seems able to mobilize 
them) because they believe that the issues do not affect them 
or that they cannot affect the issues.  Those groups that 
attract our attention because they are daring or outspoken 
are the exception.  The few genuinely democratic youth groups 
are being hastened to irrelevancy by a well-funded and 
organized government effort intent on avoiding the orange- 
and rose-colored revolutions of its neighbors.  The 
nationalist groups, should they grow in strength, would 
likely also face a campaign of intimidation and harassment. 
BURNS

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