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The Quest for an Ideal Youth in Putin's Russia I : Back to Our Future! History, Modernity and Patriotism according to Nashi, 2005-2012 / von Ivo Mijnssen


The so-called Democratic Antifascist Youth Movement Nashi has consistently conveyed demands from official discourse to a youthful audience and been part and parcel of a state-driven project of political stabilization. Nashi has emphasized the importance of a powerful state, economic strength and Russian unity against domestic and external enemies threatening the country. Moreover, an idealized narrative of the USSR’s Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany of 1941-1945 has played a crucial role as a discursive template for the current situation in Russia. Nashi mobilized a large number of young Russians through a mixture of emotional appeal, skillful use of symbolic politics, as well as the promise for professional self-realization. Nonetheless, this book argues, the long-term impact of Nashi has remained limited - above all, because of its own internal contradictions.
The study illustrates the interplay between the politics of history and securitization, as well as between the emphasis on historical glory and demands for state-driven modernization, on the basis of three case studies. They cover the foundation of Nashi in 2005, the movement’s role during the 2007 conflict with Estonia over the removal of the “Bronze Soldier,” and the International Youth Forum, which the Russian government and Nashi organized at Lake Seliger in summer 2010. Employing a discourse-theoretical approach informed by the ideas of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, and making use of official publications, internal documents, interviews and participant observation, this book furthers a deeper understanding of state-sponsored youth politics in post-Orange Russia.