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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Aide Slams Youth Policy

Ella Pamfilova, the beleaguered head of the Kremlin’s human rights council, has sharply criticized the government’s youth policy, which she said set up privileged groups whose members served as political pawns.

“You must not divide the young into ‘ours’ and ‘not ours’ … and allow some to do practically everything while hampering the development of others,” she told reporters Thursday.

Pamfilova spoke after a bitter dispute with the pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi, which means “ours” in Russian, earlier this month.

Nashi activists and United Russia deputies had called for Pamfilova’s dismissal after she condemned Nashi for “persecuting” journalist and human rights activist Alexander Podrabinek for his criticism of World War II veterans.

Pamfilova said Thursday that the attack on her was “totally absurd” because it involved Duma deputies. “Lawmakers demanding the removal of the person whose role is to demand the observance of the law — that is unprecedented,” she said.

She called on the government to change its youth policy. “It is very bad when young people get euphoric and break the law because they have support from senior government figures,” she said. She added that the radical posture of many youth movements was bred by government policies. “This is inadmissible,” she said.

Nashi is said to be the brainchild of the Kremlin’s first deputy chief of staff, Vladislav Surkov. The group reportedly started its harassment of Podrabinek after a meeting between Nashi leaders and Surkov.

Pamfilova also said her 34-member council would meet President Dmitry Medvedev in November to discuss ways to strengthen civil society.

The Podrabinek flap started when the journalist suggested in an article that members of the Moscow Union of Veterans were former “camp guards” and “executioners” for demanding that a Moscow restaurant change its name from Antisovetskaya, or Anti-Soviet, to Sovetskaya. The restaurant’s owner has said he was forced to change the name under pressure from Oleg Mitvol, prefect for the Northern Administrative District. The veterans group had complained to Mitvol.

Mitvol said Thursday that the restaurant might have staged the political conflict to distract from a quarrel with its bank. “One version is that he provoked a scandal … after he lost a court case against Sberbank, to which he now owes a few billion rubles,” Mitvol said.