Russian Youth Group Uniforms

Figure 1.--This Russian boy models his Yonng Pioneer uniform in the 1980s.

The Scout appeared in Russia in the early 20th century as in all European countries. It was, however, a very small group, primarily limited to the small middle class. The Pioneers were a truly mass movement. The Soviet Union in the 1920s was the first country to ban Scouting, replacing it with its own youth mocement--the Young Pioneers. The Young Pioneers in the Soviet Union became the largest youth movement in the world--until the Communists seized power in China. Unlike the Scouts, however, Young Pioneers quickly vanished when the Soviet Union desintigrated and government subsidies were withdrawn. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Scouting has again appeared in Russia.


The history of Scouting in Russia is marked by a modest foundation among the narrow strata of middle-classs Russiand and then the horrors of World War I and Civil War. After a brief period of toleratiion by the Bolsheviks, Scouting was brutally supressed in the Stalinist purges. The Scout movement was never as firmly established in Russia as it was in most other European countries. The first Russian Scout troop was founded in 1909, only a few years after the Scout movement was founded in Britain. A relatively small number of urban boys participated, but the movement was well within the traditiion of the wider European Scouting tradition. Scouting flourished under the Czar. The lean years of World War I (1914-17) and Revolution (1917-21) left little room for Scouting. After the establishment of the Soviet Union, Scouting again flourished--briefly. I have no details, however, on Russian Scouting during this period. The Boleshvicks especially as Stalin gained increasing influence felt threatened by a youth organization which was outside its control. As a result, Scouting was banned in 1926.


The Communist Revolution in Russia occured during 1917, before the Scouting movement could be established to any extent. Scouting has always been a middle-class movement. The Communists instead set up the Young Pioneer movement to involve all children. The Communist Party (CPSU) was the most important organization in the Soviet Union. The Party used youth groups like the Young Pioneers as part of its overall program to inculcate Communist ideology. Other potentially competing youth groups were outlawed.

Volunteer Fire Fighters

Fighting fires was a major concern in Russia. Most buildings were constructed from wood. Brick buildings were less common than in Europe. Only in the larger cities do you see stone buildings. We note some very large wooden buildings. This made many Russian towns highly flamable. As a result, fire fighting was an important concern. Large cities might have a full time fire department. Towns and villages would have a volunteer force. Some youths and boys might participate, most likely the sons of the adult members. We see European volunteer forces with quite a number of boys involved. We know less about the tradition in Russia.

Unknown Groups

We notice several groups like look like youth groups or groups involved in what look like youth group activities. This includes groups in Tsarist Russia, theSoviet Union, and post-Soviet Russia. These images cover an era of trenemendous change, so they give us insights into what was happening in the Tsarist/Soviet empire. We know something abouut several of these groups nd next to nothing about several of them. Hopefully our Russian readers will be able to tell us more.

Unknown Group

We note what looks to be a youth organization operating summer camps in post-Soviet Ukraine. It appears to be using summer camp facilities of the old Pioneer movement. We know nothing about the groups, even if it is Russian, Ukranian, or some kind of international group. We note that some children from the former Soviet Central Asian republics attend the camps.


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Created: May 26, 2001
Last updated: 8:41 PM 5/24/2014