Staunton, December 8 – As Vladimir Putin says that Russia’s information security must be beefed up and his interior ministry prepares to test all university students in the country for extremism (newsru.com/russia/08dec2016/extremism.html), Russian experts say that about one in 50 Russian young people are extremists and one in four could join their ranks in the future.
At a session organized by the Resource Center for the Development of Islamic Studies devoted to “blocking recruitment into radical groups,” participants said that “only two percent” of Russian youth are involved with extremist groups (islam-today.ru/islam_v_rossii/eksperty-v-organizaciu-ekstremistskih-grupp-vkluceny-2-molodezi-v-rf-25-gotovy-perestupit-certu/).
That is not an insignificant number – there are currently 13.8 million Russians between 15 and 24 so two percent of that would be more than 250,000 -- but of greater concern, the experts said, is the fact that “another 19 to 25 percent” of young people display attitudes and behaviors which suggest that they are “prepared to cross the line” into such groups in the future.
Extremism, the session said, “includes in itself such dangerous understandings and actions as xenophobia, vandalism, the use of force against non-indigenous nationalities, and violations of their rights in the economic sphere.” And it is often fed by youthful impatience and a tendency to act without reflection.
“Among the basic aspects of radically inclined youth can be noted aggression, the absence of tolerance and negative attitudes toward specific social groups, the propaganda of these ideas, the lack of acceptance of social norms, the ignoring of the law, and a tendency to act in groups in a demonstrative fashion.”
The reasons young people join extremist groups, the experts said, lie in their social situation, their broader socio-cultural position and their political status. Youthful extremism is “less well organized” than that in which adults engage, but young people are likely to be more cruel in their actions because they are less inclined to think about the consequences.
The Internet has changed the situation in fundamental ways, the experts said. “Now young people live under conditions of virtual reality which leads to the mobilization and organization of specifically extremist groups.” And blocking its spread must involve dealing with that threat as well as with the broader causes in society.