A Kremlin youth group says it will field ‘brigades’ to push back against opposition rallies
“Molodaya Gvardiya” (Youth Guard), a wing of the ruling political party United Russia, says it will create rapid-response “brigades” in the country’s biggest cities and other areas where the party has performed poorly.
Between 100 and 200 activists would comprise these groups, which would be expected to organize public demonstrations within a few hours “on various issues” — mainly with the aim of confronting protests by the anti-Kremlin opposition. Within 24 hours, Molodaya Gvardiya’s brigades should be able to mobilize up to 1,500 pro-Kremlin demonstrators.
In the late 2000s (really until the 2011 winter protests), groups like Nashi and Molodaya Gvardiya regularly confronted and harassed opposition activists at public rallies. When Russia’s “non-systemic opposition” movement grew suddenly (thanks to voter falsification in the 2011 parliamentary elections), these pro-Kremlin youth groups faded from politics.
Molodaya Gvardiya emerged in 2005, when future Pskov Governor Andrey Turchak held a seat on its coordinating council. After resigning in Pskov, Turchak became the secretary of United Russia’s General Council. Throughout its existence, Molodaya Gvardiya has carried out demonstrations against the anti-Kremlin opposition. Its activists have also worked on environmental issues and promoted “healthy lifestyles.”