New East Digital Archive

Party politics: scenes from a government youth camp

Photographer Egor Tsvetkov was interested in how the Russian government cultivates patriotism in its young citizens, so he headed to Seliger, the state-organised international youth forum. Now in its tenth year, the camp takes place in summer by Lake Seliger in the Tver region, 350km north-west of Moscow. One of 4,000 participants, Tsvetkov spent a week in a microcosm of Russia: in lecture tents named after major Russian cities and around installations representing the Kremlin and the Orthodox Church. “The composition of the participants was miscellaneous," he says. “A third were from political youth parties, another third were community organisers and the last third came independently. It's obviously hard to organise a truly educational forum given such an enormous range of educational backgrounds and cultures. So in fact it transformed into a show: there were Second World War battle reconstructions, a disco with patriotic songs and gun demonstrations from the special forces. Basically, it looked as if the organisers wanted to satisfy everybody’s needs, which in their minds meant pictures of Yuri Gagarin, Stalin, church domes, Nicholas II and a Kalashnikov rifle displayed on a giant screen.” Despite such a heavy emphasis on patriotic duty, many participants came not for the agenda but to enjoy the countryside and have a holiday by the warm lake.

18 September 2014