Friday, December 15, 2023

Societal Changes that Produced Youth Gangs and Demands for Change Returning to Russia with a Vengeance, Makarkin Suggests

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 10 – In recent weeks, Russians have been entranced with the new film, The Guy’s Word, about youth gangs in the Soviet Union and Russia at the end of the 20th century (

            But that can’t be comforting to the Kremlin because the film calls attention to the kind of societal changes that led not only to youth gangs but also to perestroika and implicitly invites Russians to think about the ways in which today’s situation is like the earlier ones, the Moscow analyst says (

            In a new commentary, Makarkin points to three factors that he sees as behind the emergence of youth gangs 40 years ago: the growth of cities as a result of incompletely urbanized populations, growing socio-economic differences between the elite and the population, and a war that hangs over young people given its potential for taking their lives

            “The sense that one might go into the army and not find oneself at the other end of the country … but in a foreign country from which not everyone is returning alive sharply increased resentment,” the analyst says. “And only then did perestroika appear.” Youth gangs are thus a harbinger of change, but whether in the same positive direction is far from clear.

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