Evgeniya Drozhaschih, Rethinking Russia expert
On November 20-21, the State Duma welcomed young parliamentarians of regional legislative assemblies, municipal deputies, young scholars and postgraduate students, businessmen and representatives of youth organizations. All of them won the contest to participate in the first All-Russian Youth Parliamentary Forum. While it is too early to talk about the practical outcome of the two-day meaningful discussion – the best initiatives can later become bills to be debated – the prominence of the event as a strategic move is already apparent and can be commented on.
The youth track, which was mentioned in governmental decree the Strategy of the State Youth Policy in the Russian Federation (2006), the Concept of Long-Term Socio-Economic Development of the Russian Federation until 2020 (2008) as well as in a range of other documents, has been gaining momentum in the second decade of the 21st century. One of President Vladimir Putin’s May decrees issued in 2012 “On Measures to Implement State Policy in Science and Education” mentioned, among other things, the need to develop a set of measures aimed at identifying and supporting gifted children and young people.
The “Fundamentals of State Youth Policy in the Russian Federation until 2025″ approved by the Government of the Russian Federation in 2014 has become doctrinal, if not canonical. The document provides the tools to implement the state youth policy, to mobilize the mentioned social group to respond to the “new challenges caused by global transformations”, to contribute to the country’s social and economic development by addressing the relevant issues”.
If we put two and two together and consider this statement in the broader context, taking into account the aim to bring up and educate “patriotic youth with independent thinking”, we get the rationale for the large-scale big-budget events held in 2017. The list includes, among others, the World Festival of Youth and Students, which brought together 20 thousand undergraduates in Sochi, with half of the delegates representing Russia and the remaining half representing 187 countries. Add to this mixture the Young Parliamentarians Forum of the BRICS Countries in Saint Petersburg, the Highest Student School of Parliamentarianism, a Young Guard project which started the second round of meetings between students and public and political figures in autumn 2017, and the Youth Parliamentary Forum, which, as State Duma Speaker Volodin put it, may take place annually.
Interestingly, intense activities of Rosmolodezh and other organizations throw into sharp relief the fact that the parliamentary dimension is gaining its momentum. Young activists participate both in political debate and electoral processes, which encourages them to join or coordinate their efforts. Despite regular staff reshuffle, the average age of Russia’s public officials is recently reported to have increased from 52.6 till 55.5 in 2012 and 2017 respectively, which only highlights the relevance of the projects.
It is increasingly evident that the government actively engages in pursuing the national youth policy and building a talent pool that will soon have to assume responsibility for social and economic and political processes at home and abroad. In the context of growing youth population, as evidenced by the figures of 23,1% and 26,5% in 2014 and 2017 respectively, the rising average age of officials demonstrates that there is still much room for developing this policy.