Local troops of Putin's Youth Army on parade in the city of Sochi, 2017. The Russian Defense Ministry founded the "Youth Army" troops for children from 8 to 18 years old in 2016. (Photo: privetsochi.ru)

Local troops of Putin's Youth Army on parade in the city of Sochi, 2017. The Russian Defense Ministry founded the "Youth Army" troops for children from 8 to 18 years old in 2016. (Photo: privetsochi.ru) 

Opinion, Russia

Edited by: A. N.

Many Russians blame their country’s moves toward fascism on Vladimir Putin alone, Lev Ponomaryov says. But it is “important in principle” to recognize that those pushing Russia in that direction include a far broader spectrum of people, something that means replacing the current Kremlin leader is only a necessary but not a sufficient step.

Lev Ponomaryov, Russian human rights campaigner and one of the founders of Memorial, surrounded by police at a protest action near the FSB (renamed KGB) headquarters in Moscow.

Lev Ponomaryov, Russian human rights campaigner and one of the founders of Memorial, surrounded by police at a protest action near the FSB (renamed KGB) headquarters in Moscow.

The senior Russian human rights campaigner, one of the founders of Memorial in Soviet times, says that “in fact, to a significant degree,” the push for fascism “comes from below, and people in shoulder boards and not only those woke up to the reality that they could do something” without constraint.

Everyone hoped that those at the top would notice this and stop it, but instead, especially under Putin, they have encouraged this process.

As a result, Russia is undergoing “creeping fascism, the most horrible kind in the country. And escaping from this will be put more complicated than escaping from Putin.”

Russian military instructors train local troops of Putin's children "army" to use combat weapons in occupied Crimea. The Russian Defense Ministry founded Yunarmia ("Youth Army") troops for children aged from 8 to 18 years old across Russia and Russia-occupied territories in 2016, two years after Russia's anschluss of the Ukrainian peninsula. Photo: social media

Russian military instructors train local troops of Putin’s children “army” to use combat weapons in occupied Crimea. The Russian Defense Ministry founded Yunarmia (“Youth Army”) troops for children aged from 8 to 18 years old across Russia and Russia-occupied territories in 2016, two years after Russia’s anschluss of the Ukrainian peninsula. Photo: social media

The current Kremlin leader will eventually leave, “but what is to be done then with this fascism?” That is a question that Russians must wrestle with, as well as with the fact that the 1991 revolution was never carried through all the way and that most Russian families remain divided between those who have been victims and those who were the victimizers.

And overcoming that will be perhaps the most difficult task of all.

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Edited by: A. N.
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