Perhaps Nashi has found a purpose in Medvedev’s Russia: functioning as an army of provocateurs and spies. This week, Anna Bukovskaya, a former Nashist, blew the whistle on Nashi’s undercover operation to infiltrate and surveillance opposition youth organizations. In a statement published on Ilya Yashin’s blog, Bukovskaya stated:
I, Anna Aleksandrovna Bukovskaya, was the federal deputy leader of a hidden state project called the “President’s Messenger” (as it was called initially, as of December 2007 its name hadn’t changed), which practiced the infiltration of people into oppositional organizations in cities of the Russian Federation. The project has existed officially since 10 September 2007. Initially the project began in three cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yaroslavl. The high priority organizations were the NBP (National Bolshevik Party), OGF (United Civil Front), Oborona, and MSYa (Yabloko Youth).
Bukovskaya goes on to explain her duties as a spy.
The main concern seemed to be in the impending actions of the opposition. Accordingly, this came in two types of reports: announcements (which were sent immediately as events became known) and as so-called material reports (reports which were sent as fact sheets (short information about a person) on the leadership (or its executive secretary) of opposition organizations. On these people were made short personal files with their background.
Lower agents passed this information to Bukovskaya, who sent it to Dmitry Golubyatnikov, the head of the project. He then “contacted “Surkov’s people” in the Kremlin,” as in Vladislav Surkov, Putin’s chief ideologist and now Medvedev’s Chief of Staff. Bukovskaya got a monthly stipend of $1,100 a month, while the lowly narcs got $550. She says that she finally quit the project when she realized that everything Nashi told her about the opposition “were complete lies.”
The Nashi spy ring expanded beyond the above mentioned cities. Nashi activists infiltrated groups in Voronezh, Ivanovo, Kaluga, Orel, and Kaliningrad. Also, the list of targeted organizations also grew to include: Red Youth Vanguard, United People’s Movement, Communist Youth League, Union of Right Forces, Russian Vanguard, and the Movement Against Illegal Immigration.
Nashi of course has denied the existence of “President’s Messenger” and that Bukovskaya was anything but a “rank and file” Nashist. “Nashi doesn’t get involved in such things,” Mikhail Kulikov, a senior Nashi member told the Moscow Times. Really? Then how do you explain the two Nashi members Oborona “unmasked” its St. Petersburg ranks?
Sadly, the more Nashi does, the more it acts like the Komsomol. Originality apparently went out the window decades ago. The Komsomol too made the point to “struggle” against the Boy Scouts, Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary youth groups, and religious sects in the early 1920s. It even went a step further and requested the creation of a special section of the Cheka to “surveillance non-communist youth organizations,” according to one archival source. The request was granted by the Cheka Presidium in February 1922. All materials on youth groups were to be sent to a “secret Cheka department.” It’s unclear how active this special section was (I haven’t researched it and to my knowledge no one has), but the Komsomol continued to monitor “non-communist” and religious youth groups throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and most likely right up to 1991.
Interestingly, by the mid-1920s, external groups proved less of a problem than internal ones. Here I don’t mean your run of the mill Trotskyist. Komsomols began forming small groups and circles within the League itself. Most dedicated themselves to poetry (mostly devoted the cult-poet Sergei Esenin), street fighting, drunken nights and group sex. I’ve even found one called the League of Death in a report on two of its members’ suicides. Call if Soviet proto-Goth. Some were overtly political. Anarchist or Bolshevik left groups reared their little heads at times by flooding the TsK with denunciations of its work and manifestos. One nameless anarchist group even urged its adherents to join to Komsomol and destroy it from the inside.There were also a few fascist and nationalist groups, especially in the Far East. Some, like a Protestant sect called the New Israelite Movement, even adeptly used local Komsomol cells as fronts to proselytize among youth. That is, until its leaders were arrested in 1927.
The Komsomol was so obsessed with these small and most ineffective groups (only the religious ones seemed to make any real headway). Reams of paper were devoted to recording their intricate activities no matter how small. Sadly, it appears that Nashi is repeating history by conjuring similar anxieties.
Interesting stuff. I wonder how much more this will play out. The only thing I have to say to Bukovskaya is thanks for sharing and most importantly, watch your back. Also, if you have any internal documents on this matter, could you plaster them on the internet?