Staunton, March 22 – Many in or near the Kremlin elite have expressed concern that they are “losing” the young, Moscow commentator Roman Popkov says. But they shouldn’t be because “the neo-Soviet state is conducting itself toward young people in a more shameful fashion than did the Soviet one.”
Indeed, it has become an “aggressively anti-youth state,” opposed to the generation that is concerned about the future because it focuses on the past and sees any change as a threat to its current standing and interests. Not surprisingly, the young people increasingly are turning against it (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=60574A5483AD2).
But there is one aspect of this Putin policy that many observers have failed to note. It did not begin yesterday or today but more than 15 years ago at the time of “the early Putin.” Then, in contrast to now, it attacked young people on the right and did so with the support of liberals at home and abroad who saw these groups as meriting attack.
What those observers did not and do not see, Popkov says, is that the regime was using attacks on groups many did not approve of not only to make such attacks seem entirely “normal” but to prepare its force structures to attack groups that more liberal observers favor. That reflects Putin’s general approach, and it is a warning that worse is ahead.
Again and again, over the course of his time in power, Putin has first attacked groups that some don’t like or approve of, first the Chechens, then Russian nationalists, and more recently the Jehovah’s Witnesses, winning support for himself and allowing some to deceive themselves into thinking that what he is doing has the support of Russians and is thus defensible.
And then, the Kremlin leader uses the same methods against others liberals do approve of, like the young, only for both to discover as Pastor Martin Niemoeller observed about the situation in Nazi Germany there was no one left to say anything against what is going on or to defend them against it.