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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Right Cause Plays for Youth Vote

ST. PETERSBURG -- Under the slogan "You Are Right," the Right Cause coalition has become the first f but probably not the last f political organization to launch a youth-oriented election campaign, with a package of five rock and pop acts that has been touring Russia for the past month.

On Sunday night, "You Are Right" arrived in St. Petersburg, setting up at the Petrovsky Stadium and drawing an estimated audience of between 25,000 and 30,000 people.

The Right Cause jamboree included a march with a 100-meter Russian flag f by coincidence, it was also Russian Flag Day f and a four-hour rock concert featuring bands Chaif, Moralny Kodeks, Svintsovy Tuman, Vladimir Kuzmin, Vladimir Presnyakov and f especially for the St. Petersburg event f the reformed local band Sekret.

As the bands played, Right Cause leaders Boris Nemtsov and Irina Khakamada chanted, danced, circled the stadium's field and played soccer against the local clown troupe Litsedei.

Of all the acts, probably only Chaif is normally capable of gathering as large a number as 2,000 fans in St. Petersburg: The show was sold out mostly because tickets to the event were only 20 rubles and every ticket holder who filled in a questionnaire received a free Right Cause T-shirt, worth $6.

"It must be done so that voting should be cool," Nemtsov said about the tour, which resembles the 1996 pro-Yeltsin campaign "Vote Or Lose!" "Slogans like 'It's Cool to Vote' and 'It's Cool to Live in Russia' are patriotic, and they are what we need."

"The event is oriented toward university-age students, that is, thinking young people," said Khakamada. "Because rock music is more attractive to 18-year-olds and over, while the pop crowd consists more of teenagers."

She added that the coalition had asked the tour's promoter, Video International, to choose "only rock groups, not pop stuff," although Presnyakov falls squarely within the pop singer bracket.

"I love [Kino's late leader] Tsoy, [DDT's leader Yury] Shevchuk, Nautilus Pompilius, Chaif ? Kuzmin is O.K.," Khakamada said about her personal music tastes, listing mainstream rock acts. She said it was a pity that DDT was not taking part.

"I was telling Shevchuk as early as in 1995, 'Man, you have to live in a free state.' He said, 'I understand everything; I am ready to vote for you, but we have a [policy of staying out of politics].'"

"The questionnaires f which we gather from 10,000 to 20,000 people in every city f show that Russian youth want to live the same way as [their counterparts] abroad, to be happy and to travel freely around the world," Khakamada continued. "Youth don't want large gifts of money, but they want to have a job, and f most important f don't want anybody interfering with it."

"It means that we are gathering [the country's] future liberals in these stadiums," she said.

Saturday, Kommersant reported that the Central Election Committee had warned the Young Russia, Forward Russia and Common Cause movements f three of Right Cause's constituent parts f about "overactive pre-electoral campaigning before the official registration of associations" wishing to participate in the election.

Khakamada responded by saying that the tour was "not of a campaigning character, but a purely image-making exercise."

Itar-Tass reported Monday that the Russian Student organization had asked the Election Committee to investigate whether Right Cause broke the law with its activities. Russian Student joined the youth wing of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's nationalist Liberal Democratic Party in picketing the Petrovsky Stadium before the concert. About 20 people held posters saying "You Are Not Right."

Sunday, Forward Russia leader Boris Fyodorov announced his bloc's departure from the Right Cause coalition, expressing dissatisfaction with the unified movement and announcing his intention to run for the governorship of the Moscow region.