Youth policies and patriotic camps in northern Caucasus. The case of Mašuk [December 2011]
The organisation of youth camps financed by the government has emerged as one of the most visible and best publicised elements of present youth policies in Russia. This paper refers in particular to Mašuk 2010, a camp supported by the Russian government and dedicated entirely to young people from territories of the federal district of the northern Caucasus and from territories of the de facto independent republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, internationally recognised as part of Georgia. The research is based on participated observation at the Mašuk camp in the summer of 2010 and on interviews with those responsible for youth policies in Russia and the Caucasus.
The research found that youth policies currently supported by the Russian government take their example explicitly from the Soviet experience. In the Caucasus, youth policy and camps such as Mašuk have the aim of promoting entrepreneurship and the importance of individual success, improving inter-ethnic relations among young people of the region, creating a positive image of the State (frequently identified with corruption, bad government, and repressive measures), strengthening policies of patriotic education in order to reinforce the sense of belonging to the “great motherland” - the Russian Federation - and also to “small motherlands”, like the region of origin and, for the first time, the northern Caucasus in its entirety.
Author: Giorgio Comai