Nikita Borovikov is head of the Russian youth organization Nashi which means “Our,” a battle cry Russian football fans use to cheer on their teams. The organization has thousands of members scattered all over Russia and they are blindly devoted to the President Putin. “Those who think badly of us call us Putin’s troops,” says Borovikov, but “everyone else says we are nationally-oriented youths.” Nashi is both a political action committee dedicated to helping their beloved leader win elections, and a social action organization that does things like collect blood or help build homes. However, according to an opponent of Putin, “Whenever I appear in public,” says Vladmir Ryzhkov, “there are counter-demonstrations and disruptions” caused by Nashi youth. They even came to his house on his birthday and harassed the celebration by giving him man American flag. A few days later a film showed him with an American flag and he was accused of being a CIA agent. It is well known Nashi receives government funding and is provided access to building and meeting areas.
In many respects, Nashi most resembles the Hitler Brown Shirts who operated during the Weimar Republic as a force of intimidation. They come to opposition meetings and shout or disrupt speakers and make people afraid to attend due to fear of violence. It is sad that Putin, given his already wide popularity and control of the media, has to resort to such thuggish tactics to win a few more votes.