Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Social Conditions Driving Ever More Young Russians to Act like ‘Partisans,’ Vorsobin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 26 – The recent attack by a young Russian on an FSB office in Khabarovsk shows that the authorities have learned nothing from the 2010 case of the Primorsky “partisans” and have failed to address the unhealthy social conditions in Russia’s Far East that are driving young people to act like partisans, Vladimir Vorsobin says.

            In a commentary for Komsomolskaya Pravda, Vorsobin argues that “in a healthy society, where law really triumphs, ‘partisans’ don’t have a chance to appear,” but in many parts of Russia that isn’t the case and horrific social conditions are leading to the radicalization of young people (

            The events of 2010 in the Russian Far East should have been a wakeup call, he suggests; but unfortunately, the authorities have done nothing but rely on making hyperbolic charges against those who engage in such actions, labelling them bandits or Nazis, rather than addressing the social conditions that have led young Russians to act.

            When he visited the settlements where the partisans and the latest perpetrator of violence come from, Vorsobin says, “it seemed to [him] that [he] was passing through a little town that the authorities had forgotten, where there was no work besides service in the police, theft of wood from the forests, or growing marijuana.”

            Moreover, businesses were protected by the siloviki or criminal bosses – “and judging by their housing, the difference between the two is small” – who were all interested in exploiting problems rather than solving them, often encouraging young people to see immigrants as a threat to themselves.

            “Hardly anyone now has the power to change the psychology of the distant villages of the Far East which feel themselves cast off by ‘the center’ economically and a besieged fortress in ethnic terms. I don’t know,” the Moscow commentator says, “whether the local authorities are capable of understanding their young people” and why they are being pushed toward “revolt.”

            Having no good prospects, many young people go to sports clubs where they can show their strength and have no objections to being used against migrants.  Not surprisingly, they learn from such experiences and are, as recent events have again shown, quite prepared to attack others, including representatives of the powers that be.

            Vorsobin says that changing the psychology of these people requires changing the life they are forced to live, ending “bad education, unemployment and a sharp feeling of social injustice.” Those are things a government can address if it understands the situation and if it wants to. Unfortunately, he suggests, that isn’t happening in Russia today.

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