Russian Young Pioneer Accounts

Newspaper Account: 1995

Komsomol Members Get Involved

By Yevgenia Borisova

Youths sporting red banners embroidered with the hammer-and-sickle of the former USSR are an arresting sight among the many opposition groups clustered around Gostiny Dvor peddling hopes, dreams and politics.

You can be sure that 18-year-old Ivan Melitsa will be one of the young believers selling communist literature and preaching a philosophy many have claimed is dead.

Ivan is the First Secretary of the Leningrad Komsomol (LKSML) -- the Communist Union of Youth named after Lenin -- and he is fired with a missionary zeal to return St Petersburg to the glories of Leningrad past.

"Our main target is the fight for restoration of the Soviet Power, of the USSR, for socialism -- a regime where everyone would have work for decent wages, free education and medical care," he said.

The LKSML chief also had some harsh words for Gennady Zyuganov's Russian Communist Party -- one of the front-runners in the December 17 elections for the State Duma.

"Zyuganov discloses himself more and more. He even says to foreign businessmen that his party would allow them do better business in Russia than the existing regime.

"They discredit the name of communists -- they would be better off calling themselves socialists."

The LKSML is being backed by the Communist-Labor Working Party, also running for the State Duma.

But despite the rhetoric, and a personal faith in communism, Ivan claims communism is not the LKSML's target. "It is hard now to imagine an ideal regime -- it is of course in the far future," he added.

In 1993, the All-Union Komsomol (VLKSM) split into a wide range of small groups with different ideologies and goals.

Before the collapse of the USSR, every youth from 14 to 28 belonged to the Komsomol, with very few exceptions. St Petersburg's LKSML now has about 150 members in place of the hundreds of thousands who once came together to follow in the great leader's footsteps.

Most LKSML members are students and workers, but Ivan said only 50 members are really active enough to keep up with the daily duties of the league.

This does not upset the First Secretary, "Yes, it is not much. But we are doing a lot to obtain publicity and to organize a material base -- we registered our newspaper, we are creating district committees.

"We are the most organized youth organization of all existing parties. We aim to prepare youth to fight with the acting regime in the country," he said.

He said they were busy arranging teenage clubs in city districts and restoring pioneer organisations, "There are about 100 young pioneers already in St Petersburg."

St Petersburg Press, 1995

Christopher Wagner

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