Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has congratulated the long-defunct Komsomol, the youth wing of the Soviet Communist Party, on the 95th anniversary of its establishment, as the Kremlin seeks to revive a mass youth movement loyal to authorities.
In a message read out to 6,000 guests at a Kremlin function to mark the occasion, Mr. Putin called the Komsomol anniversary “an important date in the history of our state, in the lives of millions of people both in Russia and far outside its borders”.
“Because Komsomol is not only politics, it is true friendship and love, student years and the romantic appeal of new roads, common goals and dreams, and what is most important — it is being part of the fate of your homeland,” Mr. Putin said.
Komsomol, or VLKSM, an acronym for the All-Union Lenin Communist Union of Youth, was established in 1918, a year after the Bolshevik Revolution, and disbanded in 1991 when the Soviet Communist Party was banned in the wake of a failed coup organised by hardline party leaders.
However, Mr. Putin expressed confidence that the “time-tested VLKSM traditions” would be revitalised by “modern youth groups”.
After the Russian Communist Party was reconstituted in 1993, it revived Komsomol.
Mr. Putin’s surprise glorification of Soviet-era Komsomol shows that the Kremlin is going to redouble its efforts, so far unsuccessful, to build a broad-based, pro-government youth movement to counter the growing number of young people joining the opposition ranks.
Russian Internet users jeered Mr. Putin’s praise for Komsomol.
“Putin has good reason to pay tribute to Komsomol because its activists today make the Forbes list of Russian billionaires, the backbone of his regime,” a blogger wrote on Russia’s biggest social network VKontakte.