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Russia argues whether a Soviet-era pioneer organization should be restored

May 19, 2014, 21:25 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Japaridze

MOSCOW, May 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Three thousand Russian schoolchildren became young pioneers last Sunday. Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist Party of Russia, put red ties, which members of the All-Union Young Pioneer Organization used to wear in Soviet days, around their necks. There are few young pioneers in modern Russia. Most of them are supported by the Communist Party. However, many Russians believe the country should have a nationwide children’s organization similar to the Young Pioneer Organization that existed in the former Soviet Union but without any ideological ‘filler’. They believe that the state should resume the practice of bringing up children which it abandoned after the collapse of the USSR. Their opponents claim that they no longer want their children to toe the line.

For many generations of Soviet people May 19 was the day of birth of the All-Union Young Pioneer Organization whose aim was to bring up children in absolute loyalty to the Communist Party and the Soviet state. That was the form in which the organization existed in 1991 when it was disbanded following the USSR’s disintegration and the disappearance of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (the CPSU).

The USSR’s Young Pioneer Organization modeled the Scout movement but formally paid much more attention to ideology. Practically all schoolchildren aged 9-14 wore red ties, a symbol of belonging to a multimillion army of Soviet pioneers - the former little Octobrists, a Communist organization for children aged under 9, and future members of the Youth Communist League. Apart from doing well at school, young pioneers did a lot of socially useful work, such as collection of metal scrap and waste paper; they took part in a military sport game called “Sheet Lighting” and went to various hobby groups. That was with what the life of a young pioneer was filled.

According to some estimates, modern Russia has more than 2,000 various children’s organizations which cover no more than 5% or 6% of Russian schoolchildren. It means that none of these new organizations has managed to attract the younger generation.

There are several teenage subcultures in modern Russia. The Komsomolskaya Pravda daily enumerates all of them. The first category is so-called “gamers” who are addicted to computer games and spend most of their time at home playing World of Tank, World of Warcraft, GTA, FIFA, Civilisation and a million other games.

Other categories of children are the victims of mammoth ambitions of their parents. They are “nerds” who study at elite schools, go to tutors, participate in academic competitions and learn foreign languages. The next groups are “musicians” who play all the imaginable musical instruments and athletes who exhaust themselves at training sessions to become Olympic champions.But most of the aforesaid children come from well-do-do families. On the opposite social pole there are representatives of urban teenagers and youth with criminal habits. As a rule, most of them come from problem families.Today, children from various social groups practically do not meet each other. Experts are blowing the whistle. External factors such as eye shape, clothes and parents’ financial status are becoming more important for modern children when they try to distinguish between “us” and “them”. Will a revived young pioneer organization help liquidating this split? Opinions are divided. “There is no need in a pioneer organization. I do not want to toe the line,” liberal Russian politician Irina Khakamada says.“The pioneer organization did not teach me anything bad. Whatever they may say, patriotic upbringing is necessary. Without it, other entertainments appear: computer games where everybody has to be killed; drugs and alcohol,” Dmitry Puchkov, a translator of Hollywood films, says. Children’s writer Vladislav Krapivin believes that Russia needs a nationwide children’s organization but without any ideology.

“I think well of that (Soviet) pioneer organization,” Krapivin’s portal “Free Course” says.

“We planted trees, played football and went hiking. If the names of Lenin or Stalin were occasionally mentioned, it was just a formality or a custom,” Krapivin stressed. “If we need a universal children’s organization, then it should have division according to projects, interests and directions,” the NovostiMo portal quoted Olga Popova, the head of the Moscow headquarters of the United Russia party’s Young Guard organization, as saying. Veniamin Rodnyansky, a Russian public chamber member and a political scientist, is convinced that Russia needs an analogue of the Soviet-era pioneer organization without fail. “We need to revive the infrastructure, summer and sport camps and create conditions for leisure and recreation of teenagers and young people. All this should become attractive for youth,” Rodnyansky said.


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