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Russian youths find politics as their pop icons face pressure

 Courting and cultivating loyalty among the Russian youth has long been a part of the Kremlin’s governing strategy. But the latest apparent move to command allegiance from younger Russians may be backfiring.

When young people in former Soviet republics organized “color revolutions” to push out undemocratic leaders a decade ago, the Kremlin lent support to Nashi, a nationalist, pro-state youth organization whose ideals thrive in spinoff groups to this day. When the West began protesting Russia’s annexation of Crimea earlier this year, the Russian government introduced a new patriotism curriculum to emphasize the territories’ historic bond.

But when Russian authorities started going after outspoken pop icons this fall, they struck a nerve with many young people who claim to be largely apolitical but suddenly became wary of officials muzzling stars of their generation.

“I’m not that involved in politics. I’m more interested in what’s happening to my idols, and politics only as a consequence of that,” said Alexei Kornev, 19, a student from Tomsk who studies in Moscow. “But nobody and nothing should be in the way of music.”

For Kornev and many others, the performer whose experience inspired such concerns is Russia’s biggest homegrown hip-hop star, Ivan Alekseev — better known by his rap alias, Noize MC.

Continue reading at www.washingtonpost.com

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