The Soviet Union may be long gone but President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB spy, has revealed that he retains fond memories of the Communist Party’s youth wing.
Putin spoke on the eve of the 95th anniversary of the establishment of the Komsomol, the youth division of the Communist Party, marked on Tuesday.
“This anniversary is an important date in the history of our state, in the lives of millions of people both in Russia and far outside its borders,” Putin said in a statement.
The Russian strongman waxed nostalgic, saying memories of one’s Komsomol youth united people from all walks of life, from scientists and public figures to artists and war veterans.
“Because Komsomol is not only politics, it’s true friendship and love, student years and the romanticism of new roads, common goals and dreams and the most important — being part of the fate of your homeland,” he said on Monday.
Komsomol, an abbreviation of the All-Union Lenin Communist Union of Youth (known in Russian as the VLKSM), was established in 1918, a year after the Bolshevik Revolution.
Membership in the organisation was considered a stepping stone to top jobs, and several generations wore red Komsomol pins featuring Lenin’s profile as a badge of honour.
The Soviet leadership cleverly harnessed the enthusiasm of Komsomol youth to build badly needed infrastructure like the monumental Baikal-Amur railroad.
Putin expressed hope that modern youth groups would find the “time-tested VLKSM traditions” useful in their work.
He once famously said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”
Since coming back to the Kremlin for a third term last year, he sharpened his patriotic rhetoric in a bid to rally support after huge protests against his decade-long rule.