In Russia, Clash Of Generations Replacing Clash Of Civilizations – OpEd


Recent statements by FSB Director Aleksandr Borotnikov suggest that in Russia, the clash of generations, historically known in Russia as the battle between “fathers and sons,” is replacing the clash of civilizations, according to the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta.

The recent wave of violent acts by young Russians has prompted the FSB head to shift his focus from the actions of those inspired or recruited by Islamist radicals abroad to acts by young Russians who have never left the country or attached themselves to any particular ideology, the paper says (

That poses two serious challenges to the regime, the editors of the Moscow paper say. On the one hand, it undercuts Moscow’s ability to blame everything on outsiders because it has now acknowledged that the latest violence is home-grown. And on the other, it represents the kind of anomic violence that police forces historically have a difficult time preventing.

The new violence has arisen out of a youthful milieu, Bortnikov says, and the ideas which inform it are a mixture of “Nazi, nationalist, anarchist, left, right, and Islamist.” But the main thing is that as a result of those motivated by these or other notions or no notions other than a desire to cause trouble or attract attention, “people die.”

A new generation has arisen “which has not experienced the times of the unmasking of the repressive and totalitarian communism regime and a generation which chooses terrorism to bring closer ‘the bright future of anarchist communism.’” They may be inspired by other terrorists but they have not been recruited by them.

“Among them,” the paper says, one encounters neo-Nazis, football fans and anarchists.” What one doesn’t find and thus can no longer shift the blame to are foreign forces or those foreign forces have recruited. The problem is home grown just as the younger generation is home grown.

It is thus “useless” to blame this or that incident “on the evil will from abroad or the influence of an alien culture. Here in its pure form is the problem of ‘fathers and sons’ which confront the fathers of the Fatherland completely new tasks,” the most difficult of which is to address the question: why is Russia producing such people on its own?

That gets to the heart of politics in a way that blaming foreigners does not, and it is thus the most difficult problem that the FSB and the siloviki are now going to have to confront.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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