Monday, August 31, 2015

‘Rogozin’s Tigers Come Out of the Bunker’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 31 – Dmitry Rogozin has set up an alternative youth group to the Kremlin’s Nashi. It is the TIGRs – the Russian initials for Tradition, Empire, State, and Motherland – and its political program is suggested by the location of its founding meeting: Stalin’s bunker 65 meters below ground and three kilometers from the Kremlin.

            In today’s “Novaya gazeta,” journalist Diana Khachatryan describes both the bunker where the organizers of this new group chose to meet and the meeting itself which included speeches suggesting that Rogozin’s TIGRs may become new entrants in the expanding group of street fighters in Russia today (

            Those who visit the bunker, she says, find a world which is a curious mixture of the Soviet past and the current world, where one can see the places Stalin worked and also have WIFI access, and where, perhaps emblematic of the entire enterprise which is Kremlin supported, one can purchase t-shirts with pictures of Stalin and Putin together.

            At the founding meeting of the TIGRs of the Rodina Party which deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin sponsored but did not attend, participants arrived from various parts of Russia, their travel costs covered by the nationalist party which Rogozin founded.

            Most were in business suits, Khachatryan writes, but she adds that she was struck most by those with short haircuts and ordinary street clothes. As one of the latter told her, “these are fighters … we work in the streets, and now it is proposed that we cooperate with federal structures.”

            “What is the government’s problem?” he asked rhetorically. “To regulate relations between football fans during the run up to the world cup. This mission has been laid on us. We are making contacts and will study what one another is doing … We are just normal Russian guys.”

            But speakers made clear that the group and presumably the Kremlin doesn’t see all fan actions as equivalent.  Maksim Chernyakov, a member of Rodina’s Council on Youth Policy, talked at the meeting about the need to counter the behavior of Daghestani fans and block attacks on Russian teams.

            “It might seem,” he said, “that football fans are not an important matter. But there were the protests at the Manezh. Do you want a repetition of this?”

            The “Novaya gazeta” journalist notes that there were “practically no women” at the meeting. One exception was Galina Khizriyeva of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI). She appeared in traditional Islamic dress, noted that “Islamic youth are fighting in the Donbas,” and that “the Muslim world awaits the rebirth of Russia.”

            The next speaker was Mikhail Butrimov, the deputy head of the Rodina Council for Youth Policy.  He told those assembled that “the basis of Russia is the Russian family.” He added that “our task is to introduce into the minds of the new generation the values of the Russian world” and transform boys into fighters and girls into worthy mothers.

            A special role for the Russian Orthodox Church was also emphasized. Dmitry Lyubomudrov of the Trade-Industrial Chamber said that faith is “the keystone of the Russian world.”  He said he was developing “an Orthodox financial system” and needed the help of young people to oppose “our enemies, the liberals.”

            But according to Khachatryan, “one of the most emotional speakers was Vladimir Laktyushin, the chairman of Rodina’s council for youth policy. He asserted in his speech that “’young people are coming out of the bunker, because Rodina needs action and even aggressiveness.”

            “’Woe to those who stand in our way and try to occupy positions of power,’” he said. “’For there is no enemy more horrible than an internal one, that is, a traitor.”

            Laktyushin also explained why the group had decided on the name TIGER. In contrast to the bear, which is the simple of United Russia, the tiger “’is capable of making a many-meters’ long jump when no one expects it.’”

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