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Biculturalism and the Apollo-Soyuz Mission

The final two short audio pieces from the Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia. “A Brief Conversation on Biculturalism” by Alexandra Diouk and “Remembering the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Mission: 45 years of US-Russian Space Cooperation” by Lisa Becker.

Trash Protests and Leninopad

Two short audio pieces from the Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia. “The Great Russian Trash Crisis” by Seth Farkas and  “An Empty Pedestal: Ukraine after Leninopad” by Sabrina Beaver.

Deconstructing Nashi

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My latest article for the eXile, “Nashi: Is it Really the End?” is now online. Here is an excerpt:

This year, there has been much speculation in the Russian print media about the demise of the Kremlin youth organization “Nashi,” which has been as much a darling of the Russian state as it has been the bane of the Russian opposition and the Western media.

But the situation is not so simple as merely shutting down Nashi. As a new president comes to power in Russia, some are speculating that Nashi’s task is done and they’re no longer needed. This is perhaps wishful thinking for a host of reasons. In order to understand where Nashi is going in the post-Putin era, it is necessary to understand where they came from, and what role they have played.

* * *

“Do you want to realize your plan? Do you want to change the world around you? Do you want to influence your country’s future? Do you want the world to remember you? Are you searching for your place in life? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, don’t despair, there is an answer.”

In America, a pitch like that would signal a “Tony Robbins” alert, but in Russia, a far more sinister organization offers the answers to your prayers: the Antifascist Democratic Youth Movement “Nashi,” waiting for you with open arms.

All you have to do is, first, click onto their site and fill out your online application. A few days after you fill it out, Nashi promises to invite you to a “get-to-know-you” pow-wow. If accepted, Nashi promises to give you “a chance to change your life, influence world politics, and become a member of the intellectual elite.”

Given the demanding, competitive environment in Putin’s Russia, it’s easy to see how Nashi’s offer would look attractive. Its flashy website, spectacular rallies, and lock-step marches produce images of power and success. Through spectacle, it projects an image of unity and devotion to a cause. Nashi considers itself the vanguard for protecting the moral, political, and cultural fiber of Russia. For most people around the world, an organization like this evokes the worse aspects of totalitarianism—where youth are mobilized to blindly fulfill the whims of a repressive regime.

Read on . . .