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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nashi Says U.S. Planning Insurrection

MTSome 5,000 Nashi members heading for a rally on Red Square on Monday. The plastic wraps read "Our victory."
Nashi, the pro-Kremlin youth group, accused the United States of planning to incite "thieves and traitors" to seize key public buildings and squares and urged the crowd at a post-election celebration to help thwart the attempt.

Organizers told some 5,000 activists at a rally on Vasilyevsky Spusk, near the Kremlin, that the United States and the West were hoping to overturn the massive victory of United Russia, whose ticket was led by President Vladimir Putin, in Sunday's State Duma elections. United Russia won in a landslide.

"We will not let anyone take over our victory," Nikita Belokonev, a senior Nashi activist, told the crowd, which had gathered in the bitter cold. "There are people in the country who want to steal our victory, and there are countries not happy about the elections."

Opposition leader and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov said Nashi activists attacked the office of The Other Russia, a coalition of several opposition movements that Kasparov helps lead. He did not immediately provide any further details.

Leila Guliyeva, a Nashi activist from Moscow, said at the rally that she had been told that the United States and Britain had mustered "military squads" to occupy Russia's main cities, and that Nashi activists would seek to "protect the streets of Moscow from being seized by these people."

Activists circulated through the crowd, handing out a leaflet warning that the United States was trying to sabotage Putin's triumph. A cartoon, drawn in the style of a Soviet propaganda poster, depicts a sinister Uncle Sam sitting on sacks of money with names of Russian opposition leaders written on them.

"They wanted traitors and thieves to win," the text says. "Between Dec. 3 and 6, before the official announcement of the election's result, [the traitors] will try to seize squares and buildings, provoke disorder, take our victory from us."

A U.S. Embassy spokeswoman called the claim "ridiculous."

Several pro-Putin youth groups have sprung up in recent years, drawing thousands of members. Many have been organized and funded by the Kremlin and its business allies, concerned about the role that youth groups played in mass demonstrations in Ukraine and Georgia that helped bring pro-Western governments to power.

Opposition leaders, including Kasparov, were repeatedly harassed by pro-Kremlin youth in the run-up to Sunday's vote, with activists stalking leaders, disrupting news conferences and playing recordings of loud, maniacal laughter at protests. Kasparov said one pro-Kremlin youth handcuffed himself to Kasparov's car three times.

Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the liberal Union of Right Forces party, said recently that a 19-year-old Nashi activist tried to put a butterfly net with a sign saying "political insect" on his head, while others have pelted him with condoms. Nemtsov said he punched the 19-year-old with the net.