Youth Recruitment Strategies
Some international political youth wings recruit their members through large scale rallies in congested capital cities. Others may use strategic focus locations to recruit members, such as university networks, job networks, or social media. Russian youth political organizations are not much different. Current Russian President, Vladimir Putin, leads one of the largest, most influential political parties in post-Soviet era Russia: United Russia. Its youth arm for example, The Young Guard of United Russia, focuses its efforts on collecting members from outside of just Moscow and St. Petersburg by establishing nearly 83 regional branches across Russia. Young Guard ...view middle of the document...
Nashi advocated itself as an opportunity for young people to mobilize as one, to protest as one, and to engage in civil discourse as one. Nashi prided itself as being an organization that followed through with a core value that its name instills: national pride.
Nashi encouraged its members to demonstrate pride for the Motherland in a somewhat similar fashion to that of Soviet-era Komsomol. Nashi aimed to provide youth nationalism as an arm of civic engagement; that one young person multiplied by hundreds if not thousands, could change the course of the nation. The motto of Nashi is, “Who, if not us?” The motto rings true when discussing the overall engagement strategy Nashi employs to attract young converts. In order to encourage young people to mobilize, Nashi assumed you had to provide an incentive: provide the idea that young people could claim Nashi for themselves, and recruitment numbers will surely increase. Provide young potentials with a passion to revitalize Russia under a common theme of “national pride” and “national ownership,” and Nashi will vastly increase its reach. In effect, Nashi’s push to encourage “ownership” of the nation’s political, social, and economic identity gave way to Nashi’s ever increasing membership roster; which, as of 2012, stood at 150,000.
The Impact of Camp Seliger
Uniquely counter to alternative youth wings, however, is Nashi’s use of “Camp Seliger.” Based along the outskirts of Moscow, International Education Forum (or “camp”) Seliger was originally created to discreetly educate young members on Nashi’s overall functions, core values, and annual goals. Seliger forums and events, overall, were intended to introduce young members to proper political ideologies, economic theories, art, literature, and culture, but in an environment of like-mindedness. While Camp Seliger appeared as an opportunity for wholesome civic development in 2005, Nashi’s rebranded the forum after 2006 for a host of reasons.
Notably, Nashi members grew more militant, more impassioned, and more nationalist in the years after its founding. Several thousand Nashi members conducted campaigns and protests against several foreign missions headquartered in Moscow. Thousands waving Nashi flags and bearing Nashi colors marched in protest against British Ambassador, Tony Brenton, as he attended an opposition conference, called Another Russia, back in 2006. In April and May 2007, Nashi members conducted daily protests in front of the Estonian embassy in Moscow, in protest of the moving of the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn to a military ceremony. These protests drew the attention of not only international journalists and low-level State Duma officials, but President Putin’s as well. In fact, 2007 proved to be the turning point for Nashi’s ultimate goal of attaining influence at the federal level. But equally important, 2007 proved to be the year in which Camp Seliger became a summer opportunity for young Nashi members to rebrand themselves.