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Feature Story April 22, 2008
 
Nashi: Is It Really The End?
By Sean Guillory Browse author Email
 
Page 5 of 5
 

But young Nashisti like Novikov are not the only types signing up for the organization. He belongs to the "ones who get it," according to Andrei Dmitrievsky, a Natsbol who went undercover in Nashi in 2006. Dmitrievsky discovered three types of Nashi members: The "ones who get it" are youth who join Nashi in order to get an education and build a career, but also buy into its politics. Next are the "careerists." They are similar to the first group except they don’t buy any of the political bullshit. For them Nashi is purely a means to an end. Lastly there are the "scenesters." They agree with the politics, but mostly see Nashi as a social club for hooking up, hanging out, and taking advantage of all the perks.

Given its expanding infrastructure, it’s clear that Nashi isn’t going to fade away in the foreseeable future, as some media had speculated over the past couple of months. It’s casting its net wide enough to include all types, whether they’re Putin fanatics, career-driven go-getters, warriors for sovereign democracy, the "socially maladjusted" street thugs, or the horny teenager looking to get laid. (They need these too. One of Nashi’s slogans is "I want three," as in three kids.) Like with every youth movement, in order to stay in business it needs to evolve. This means creating new methods, new wars and new enemies to fight. Especially enemies. Without internal enemies, Nashi has no raison d’etre.

In this sense, articles like Kommersant’s are a blessing in disguise. They allow Nashi to spin a negative article into a war, rallying the faithful to battle, launching a full fledged "media campaign" to inflict "blows" on the "political system of Russia," as one of the Novaya Gazeta documents read.

Since the elections, Nashi’s new enemy has an even more ominous whiff than before. In an eerie revival of the Stalinist concept of "enemies with a party card," Nashi’s new enemies are from the "intellectual elements of the political elite" who participated in the presidential campaign, but want to reverse Putin’s course. Nashi is defining a new mission for itself in a post-Putin world. The struggle now is for a new kind of purity or orthodoxy: Hold true to Putin’s Plan, build a new elite, and continue the fight against Russia’s internal and external enemies. The purpose of all this is to send President-elect Medvedev a clear message. "Without Nashi, nothing is possible."

Special thanks to Lyndon Allin for what turned out to be some invaluable sources.

Sean Guillory runs Sean's Russia Blog at http://seansrussiablog.org/


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