Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Russia's 'Generation Nyet' Finds Nothing to Be For

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Russia's 'Generation Nyet' Finds Nothing to Be For

Article excerpt

In the middle of August, three days before the crisis that brought the Russian economy to near collapse, MTV, the world's biggest music television network, started broadcasting in Russia.

While the Western media reported this as a new jewel in Russia's drooping capitalist crown, MTV's target audience - the masses of Russian youths - are indifferent. Even if there had been no economic crisis, MTV, as a product of the American music industry, arrived too late in Russia.

Young Russians already know all about American pop culture. It once played a positive role, crushing the dull Communist ideology, and flooded our lives with temptation. But it failed us and we're fed up with the Western-style democracy it stands for in this country. Many foreigners who arrive in Moscow or St. Petersburg still think the well-dressed, English-speaking young people they meet are followers of an "American Way of Life." But we are not. Several years of so-called reform, a weak and incompetent president, the incessant threat of the military draft, and economic hardship have forced thousands of Russians in their early 20s to question the Russian path to democracy, and the West's urging us down that path. The question for us is: If this is democracy, is it really worth it? Was it worth the bloody war in Chechnya, or firing on the "bad guys" in parliament in 1993? It is not for chewing gum and blue jeans that we fought when we stood by Boris Yeltsin back in 1991 as he stood up to coup-plotters and ended 70 years of communism. I'm a 23-year-old Muscovite, and I call my peers "Generation Nyet" - Generation No - because all we have is "no." We don't want what we have - a troubled Russia - but we have no good ideas for what we want. Some of us turn to religion - we wear crosses and can repeat cliches from religious pamphlets, but few have read the Bible. Some of us turn to the radical chic of dangerous new sociopolitical movements; we like the romantic railings, but we have no realistic programs. Wherever we invest our thought, we feel bankrupt and apathetic. Many of my friends who once supported Mr. Yeltsin and Anatoly Chubais, the mastermind of Russia's infant market economy and privatization, now see things differently. They see that they are once again being manipulated as they were during the Communist era, when they were considered "the driving force of the Party." A perfect example of this manipulation was the 1996 presidential campaign, when Yeltsin's reelection campaign, "Vote or You Lose," had hundreds of pop stars call upon their fans to support the "right" man, to save Russia from Communist challenger Gennady Zyuganov. While many of the stars spoke of courage and patriotism, it was the money to buy exposure that was the deciding factor in the campaign. It was orchestrated by Sergei Lisovsky, a young Communist boss-turned-successful advertising executive, known for opening Moscow's first Western-style nightclub. …

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