On May 22, a presentation of the military-patriotic movement Fatherland Guard will take place during the closed government hour at the State Duma, where Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is expected. The Fatherland Guard will be involved in the patriotic education of children and preparation of youth for the army. Viktor Vodolatsky, a State Duma deputy from United Russia and the authorized representative of the president, told Izvestia that he will head up the movement, and that [Defense Minister] Sergei Shoigu has been offered a seat as Chairman of the supervisory board of the new organization.
“The new movement is created together with DOSAAF [Voluntary Society of Assistance to the Army, Air Force and Navy]. I will talk about the Fatherland Guard during the government hour, and will hand the documents to Sergei Shoigu and invite him to become head of the supervisory board of the movement. The supervisory board will be involved in guiding the work of the movement, taking part in the training of various gatherings, and all-Russian actions on the military-patriotic theme,” said Vodolatsky.
The Defense Ministry declined to comment on the proposal of the United Russia deputy, saying that their response will appear after the presentation.
The mission of the Fatherland Guard includes renewal, preservation and development of child, teen and youth patriotic groups, clubs and interest centers. Membership in the movement will be voluntary.
As planned by the author of the initiative, the organization will cover all Russian young people from the ages of 10 to 28. The movement will be divided into three sections.
The children’s section will cover ages 10-13 – participants of such groups attached to schools will go to clubs, play sports and study history. From ages 14-18, the main emphasis is planned to be on undergoing initial military preparation. The organizers want the teens to study military subjects so that they are already prepared when they go to serve in the army. After service, young people can also find themselves in the movement, in Vodolatsky’s opinion.
“The guys who return from the army will understand that they are not lost to society, that there is a structure that will help them realize themselves in life,” he said.
The leadership of United Russia has supported Vodolatsky’s initiative.
“The Party is making a special emphasis on patriotic projects. We understand the future is with youth and it is no accident that in his last address, the president spoke a lot about the renewal of spiritual ties. We support all the initiatives aimed at education of our patriots,” said Olga Batalina, Deputy Secretary of the General Council of United Russia.
The Communists believe that before loudly announcing large-scale youth projects, it would be good to seek advice from experienced colleagues.
“No one offered us an opportunity to take part, although the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) has a unique experience in working with youth. Let them create it, and we’ll see what comes of it,” Sergei Reshulsky, the CPRF State Duma Deputy noted skeptically.
The new movement will not last for long, Gleb Pavlovsky, president of the Fund for Effective Policy predicted.
“The project will exist within the framework of the budget allocated for it. As soon as the money runs out, the same thing will happen to them as happened to the Nashi [Ours] project, which is now virtually closed,” he recalled. “Such projects never work from above.”
Aleksandr Ageyev, a Just Russia deputy, on the contrary, is confident that Russia needs such an organization which could unite all youth despite their political views.
“The United Russia Young Guard did not meet the expectations of young people, as a lot of decisions were squeezed by administrative resources,” said Ageyeva. “If a movement of all political parties could unite under the same banners, without a political agenda, that would be correct.”