MOSCOW — Courting and cultivating loyalty among the Russian youth has long been a part of the Kremlin’s governing strategy. But the latest apparent move to command allegiance from younger Russians may be backfiring.
When young people in former Soviet republics organized “color revolutions” to push out undemocratic leaders a decade ago, the Kremlin lent support to Nashi, a nationalist, pro-state youth organization whose ideals thrive in spinoff groups to this day. When the West began protesting Russia’s annexation of Crimea earlier this year, the Russian government introduced a new patriotism curriculum to emphasize the territories’ historic bond.
But when Russian authorities started going after outspoken pop icons this fall, they struck a nerve with many young people who claim to be largely apolitical — but suddenly became wary of officials muzzling stars of their generation.