Why during the last decade have many young Russians become politically active well beyond simply voting? Particularly striking among youth activists is their enthusiastic support for Putinism and a resounding rejection of the policies, symbols and political figures of the era of President Boris Yeltsin (1992–2000). The vast majority of youth activists are of college age (18–24), which means they were far too young to be aware of what was happening in the country in the 1990s, the period that while democratic and pro-Western, also represents a failure of the Russian state in their imagery. To what degree do the opinions and worldviews of politically active pro-Kremlin youth reflect the recently emerged, nearly ubiquitous interpretation of recent history as presented in the high school curriculum? To that end, we undertake a content analysis of 47 high school textbooks in Russian history, followed by open-ended interviews with 37 activists from the three most visible youth organizations, all of whom are pro-Kremlin in their orientation. Although demonstrating a causal relationship is methodologically unfeasible, we find a marked correlation between the views of both the Yeltsin and Putin eras presented in those textbooks and in the political beliefs of the youth groups.

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