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Political Activism and Youth Movements in Russia. Politics on the Move/ 18.2.2010 Laura Lyytikäinen. Youth Political Activism and youth movements in Russia. How to define ’political’ and ’active’? How to study youth political activism? Color revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe

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Political Activism and Youth Movements in Russia

Politics on the Move/ 18.2.2010

Laura Lyytikäinen


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Youth Political Activism and youth movements in Russia

  • How to define ’political’ and ’active’?

  • How to study youth political activism?

  • Color revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe

  • Youth Movements in Russia

  • Repertoires of Contention


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Voting Behavior/ Youth in Europe

Youth participation in General Elections in Europe (EUYOUPART 2005), Russia (FOM 2003, Voting Behavior and election results)



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Political Apathy of Youth

  • More and more young people in the world are rejecting institutional politics and its actors.

  • Many studies show that young people are interested in political matters

    • themes that youth want to be involved in are often ignored by the mainstream political parties and representatives.

    • Political system remains remote and distant to young people and therefore it fails to attract and engage younger generation.


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How to study youth activism?

  • Many quantitative research lean on to the traditional understanding of politics and concentrate on political behavior

    • tied to the elections and parliamentary activities

      --> do not reveal the reality of youth political activism.

    • ‘conventional political science’ indicators.

  • By allowing people themselves explain what is political we are approaching ‘the political’ as lived experience rather than as conventional set of arenas.

  • According to O’Toole et al. (2003), this lived experience can be revealed by ‘the thick’ description through semi-structured interviews.


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Example of the UK (Henn et al. 2005)

  • Young people interested in the “new style of politics” that is more participative and focuses on localized and immediate issues.

  • Young people in Britain feel alienated from the political process but not because of their apathy but because of the lack of trust in the political system and politicians.

  • Milyukova 2002: relatively high level of politicization and a contradictory political consciousness of the Russian youth

    • Liberal values coexist with a desire for authoritarianism and for a strong personified leader.


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Youth as a specific group

  • Generation effects are distinctive attitudes developed amongst the young and are shared by this group over time.

  • Generation effects arise from the fact that successive generations face new challenges of which previous generations have no experience.

  • Political issues and arenas familiar to other, older, generations may well have little relevance to young people.


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Generational Dimensions

  • Mannheim (1952): Three Dimensions of Generation

    • Individuals belonging to same generation behave and think alike because they share a generational location in a society.

    • Generational experiences are shared and encountered at the same stage of one’s life cycle.

    • Contextual dimensions are important in describing these shared experiences; Individuals need to belong to the same culture and society to have similar encounters.

    • Generations fracture into smaller ”units”; through these generation units generational experiences actualize.

    • Different generation units work differently with their shared experiences and strive for different goals Mobilization


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Generation

  • Shared Generational Experiences

    • E.g. World Wars, ”The 60s Generation”, Women’s Rights

    • In Russia? Perestroika & Glasnost’ 1986, Market reforms

    • The First ”Free Generation”, Post-communist Generation, Market-orientated, Liberalism?


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Youth Political Activism – the Color revolutions

  • Wave of Protests in the Eastern and Central Europe

  • Serbia 2000: Otpor (Resistance)

    • Bulldozer revolution

    • Students against Miloševic during the Kosovo war

  • Georgia 2003(Rose Revolution): Kmara (Enough)

    • Presidential elections in 2003

    • Saakashvili’s supporters forced Shevardnadze to resign

  • Ukraine 2004 (Orange Revolution): Pora (It’s Time)

    • Presidential elections in 2004

    • Daily protests on the Maidan Square in Kiev

    • Run-off annulled -> new run-off

    • Yushchenko 52%, Yanukovich 44%

    • In 2010 mass-protests in Maidan forbidden


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Color Revolutions

  • Youth played an important role in successful revolutions

  • Revolutionary aims: Democracy

  • Non-violent methods of protests

  • Supported by the western funders, e.g. The Soros Foundation, Gene Sharp’s non-violent methods of resistance

  • Electoral process: claiming and showing the fraud in the elections

  • Kyrgystan 2005

  • Zubr in Belorussia, MJAFT in Albania

  • Oborona, My & Smena in Russia


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Political youth movements in Russia

  • Pro-Kremlinmovements

    • Supportedby the Kremlin; funding, media coverage

    • Largemobilization

  • Young Guard of the United Russia

    • Youthwing of Putin’sParty United Russia

  • Young Russia

  • Mestnye and other ”projects”

  • Camp Lake Seliger


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Nashi

  • Nashi (Ours)

    • 2005 ->

    • ”Official” anti-facism and democracy

    • “a Putin-era political technology project”? (Heller 2008)

    • Membership up to 120 000

    • “Anti-Orange”

    • Some assess that President Medvedev’s project of “civilized Russia promoting itself as a friend and partner of the West” does not need the Nashi anymore. (Heller 2008, 4)

    • Grown independent?



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Oppositional youth movements/Leftists

  • National Bolsheviks

    • Eduard Limonov

    • Banned

    • Radical nationalist agenda

    • Large membership

    • Nation of Freedom – New movement organized by a section of ”Limonovitsy”

  • AKM – the Vanguard of Red Youth

    • Radical Communist Youth Group

  • Young Left Front, Union of the Communist youth


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Democratic Oppositional Movements

  • The umbrella movements

    • OGF, the Other Russia

  • Solidarity

    • Founded in December 2008

    • United democratic forces, communists and nationalists were left out

    • SPS, Yabloko Party, People’s Democratic Union, ’For the Human Rights’, Memorial & Others

    • Boris Nemtsov, Garry Kasparov, Lev Ponomarev

    • Supported 9 candidates for the Moscow City Duma elections in 2009 -> all refused registration by the election committee

    • Youth movements, Oborona, We, Smena, Youth Yabloko

      • Il’ya Yashin (YY), Oleg Kozlovsky (Ob), Roman Dobrokhotov (We) – all in the Political Council


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Youth Movements

  • Democratic Youth movement ’We’

    • 2005, Roman Dobrokhotov

    • fighting for a democratic state that respects human rights, freedom of speech, free business, constitutional state and other gains of democracy; Army and police reform

    • Around 100 members, dozen active

    • Humorous demonstrations, plays and pickets

  • Oborona

  • Smena

  • Free Radicals, Nation of Freedom


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  • Spring 2005; Youth activists from the SPS and Yabloko Party

  • Inspired by the Ukrainian Orange Revolution

    • ”First time people started to believe something could really change”

  • ”New Free Generation”

  • Free and democratic elections, free and independent media, reform of the army and militia, against corruption, equal laws for everyone

  • Leading figure Oleg Kozlovsky

  • Around 1000 participants on the lists, dozens active

    • Students, young specialists, 14-40 years

  • Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ekateringburg, Arkhangelsk


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Oborona

  • Mass demonstrations, pickets, graffiti, seminars, Flash Mobs, Camp Partizan

  • Non-violent methods of protest

  • Internet; blogging, articles (especially Coordinator Oleg Kozlovsky)

    • LiveJournal, vKontakte, Facebook

    • The Washington Post, the Huffington Post…


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Repertoires of Contention

  • Repertoires of contention are historically particular; at one point in history only a limited set of ways to act collectively are learned and realized. (Tilly 1978)

  • Protesters have a certain “stock” of repertoires available. The stock varies in time and place, and therefore different forms of protest reflect the agents’ historical and national-geographical location.

  • How the present day repertoires of the oppositional movements reflect the political culture and political opportunity structures of Russia?


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From Mass Demonstrations to Humoristic Flash Mobs

  • Mass demonstrations:

    • Dissenters’ Marches 2005-2008

      • Organized by the Other Russia, OGF

      • At the peak 5000 participants

    • Strongly regulated by the authorities

    • Not allowed anymore

  • Youth movements’ ”flash mobs”

    • Small scale, participants in dozens

    • Organized on the Internet

    • Often humoristic, ridiculing the authorities

    • Surprising and confusing elements


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Other means of contention

  • Graffiti, Stickers

    • Graffiti already used by the Soviet dissidents

  • Concerts, seminars

  • Camp Partizan

  • Internet communities

    • LiveJournal

    • Vkontakte, Facebook

    • www.kozlovsky.ru , www.namarsh.ru


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Interaction between the state, pro-Kremlin and anti-Kremlin movements

  • Tactical adaptation/ innovation

    • Following, spying each other

  • Legislation:

    • 2006 Law on NGOs (amended in 2009)

    • 2002 Law on Extremism

  • Defaming, harassment

    • ”US spies”, conspiracy theories (US influence on Color Revolutions)

    • Harassment; Street actions, Internet blogs

    • Violence

  • Strong control of the Media; no coverage on oppositional/ dissident action

  • Controlling the street actions; refusing permissions, military/ police presence


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Growing Dissatisfaction movements

  • Social protest in Russia has been growing during the years 2007-2009 (Lankina & Savrasov 2009)

    • socio-economic downturn, rise in unemployment and dissatisfaction to the government’s policies in dealing with the crisis

    • opening political opportunity structures and the growing awareness of the mobilization demonstrations

  • Kaliningrad January 31st

    • Nationwide Strategy 31 protests

    • In Kaliningrad up to 12 000 protesters

    • In Moscow 300 protesters, 100 detained

    • No public media coverage


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Literature movements

Barber, Terry 2009: Participation, Citizenship and well-being. Engaging with young people, making a difference. In Young, Nordic Journal for Youth Research, Vol 17(1):25-40.

Bruner, M. Lane 2005: Carnivalesque Protest and the Humorless State. In Text and Performance Quarterly, Vol. 25, 2/2005, 136–155

Davies, Christine 2007: Humour and protest. Jokes under Communism. In International Review of Social History, Vol. 52 (2007), 291–305

Henn, Matt & Weinstein, Mark & Hodgkinson, Sarah 2007: Social Capital and Political Participation: Understanding the Dynamics of Young People’s Political Disengagement in Contemporary Britain. In Social Policy & Society 6:4, 467–479.


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Literature movements

Lankila, Tomila & Savrasov, Alexey 2009: Growing Social Protest in Russia. In Russian Analytical Digest, 60/09. Forschungsstelle Osteuropa, Bremen and Center for Security Studies, Zürich, Research Centre for East European Studies.

McFaul, Michael 2003: Generational Change in Russia. In Demokratizatsiya, (vol. 11), 1/2003, 1-64.

Milyukova, Irina 2002: The political future of Russia through the eyes of young students. In Young (Vol. 10) 3/4, 12-25.

Rossi, Federico M. 2009: Youth Political Participation. Is this the End of generational Cleavage? In International Sociology, (Vol. 24) 4/2009, 467-497.

O’Toole, Therese & Lister, Michael & Marsh, Dave & Jones, Su & McDonagh, Alex 2003: Tuning out or left out? Participation and nonparticipation among young people. In Contemporary Politics, (Vol. 9) 1/2003, 45-61.


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