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   Youth Groups Created by Kremlin Serve Putin’s Cause

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7/8/2007 4:00 pm

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New York Times

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News

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Entered 7/7/2007, Updated 7/7/2007

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By STEVEN LEE MYERS Published: July 8, 2007 MOSCOW, July 2 — Yulia Kuliyeva, only 19 and already a commissar, sat at a desk and quizzed each young person who sat opposite her, testing for ideological fitness to participate in summer camp. “Tell me, what achievements of Putin’s policy can you name?” she asked, referring to Russia’s president since 2000, Vladimir V. Putin. “Well, it’s the stabilization in the economy,” the girl answered. “Pensions were raised.” “And what’s in Chechnya?” Ms. Kuliyeva asked, probing her knowledge of a separatist conflict that has killed tens of thousands and, although largely won by Russia’s federal forces and Chechen loyalists, continues. “In Chechnya, it’s that it is considered a part of Russia,” the girl responded. “Is this war still going on there?” “No, everything is quiet.” Ms. Kuliyeva is a leader in the Ideological Department of Nashi, the largest of a handful of youth movements created by Mr. Putin’s Kremlin to fight for the hearts and minds of Russia’s young people in schools, on the airwaves and, if necessary, on the streets. Nashi, which translates as “ours,” has since its creation two years ago become a disciplined and lavishly funded instrument of Mr. Putin’s campaign for political control before parliamentary elections in December and a presidential election next March.


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