Okay, this is really creeping me out...anyone else see some disturbing parallels?
It's official. To be patriotic in Russia is to be a fan of Putin, specifically a Putin Youth. During the celebration on June 12th of Independence Day (Russia from the Soviet Union in 1990), "the only groups allowed onto Red Square were the youth group Nashi" - which means "ours" - "the Young Guard and Young Russia," according to Sergei, a Nashi supporter.
Tickets were carefully dispensed only to the faithful near the Krasny Ploshad Metro from a truck, I finally discovered after questioning a dozen reluctant people holding the tickets.
The 120,000-odd Putin Youth members are perhaps the most creepy demonstration of Putin's "Back to the Future" cult of personality - youth groups created, supported, and used by the Kremlin to harass, bully and intimidate opponents and critics.
"The idea was to create an ideology based on a total devotion to the president and his course," says a Kremlin adviser, Sergei Markov. Obsessed by the color revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia, the Kremlin decided to create their own loyal youth brigades.
The article goes into details that are just bone-chilling.
On a side note, my buddy Cliff, from whose blog I got this disturbing story, is holding a fundraiser to help out his contributers. If you are able, please consider a donation.