Russia needs to fight for young minds in post-Soviet space, expert says

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MOSCOW, June 8. /TASS/. Russia does not use its “soft power” potential to the full extent and needs to be more actively engaged in the struggle for the young people’s minds in the post-Soviet space in order to prevent a repetition of the Ukrainian scenario, President of the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Dynkin told TASS.

“The fight for the young people’s minds, against the imposed conflicts of historical memory, against youth extremism is essential. If we do not do this, others will. Therefore, the focus on this is very important,” said Dynkin, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees and Scientific Council on International Affairs at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC).

As examples of such activities, Dynkin cited the work with the intellectual and scientific elite of post-Soviet countries, the joint universities’ development as well as the training of national armies’ officers in Russia.

“I believe that Russia is not fully developing what is called such a banal phrase ‘soft power’,” the expert shared his view. According to Dynkin, the most significant lesson in this regard was the Ukrainian crisis. From 1992 to 2004, Moscow supplied Kiev with hydrocarbons at domestic prices and provided with other economic preferences, while humanitarian issues remained secondary.

“The Primakov Institute created a Center for Post-Soviet Studies. And the first task was to analyze history and literature textbooks for senior grades of Ukrainian schools. Somewhere since 1999, a very explicit anti-Russian narrative has been observed in these textbooks,” the Russian scientist explained. “We did not invite here Ukrainian teachers, authors of these textbooks, which were sponsored by various American funds. We thought that Ukraine would not go anywhere from us.”

Dynkin pointed out that this situation resulted in the emergence of the current “strong Ukrainian elite”, which exploited about $40 bln saved on Russian resources. “In 1990, Ukraine’s GDP per capita was slightly higher than the Polish one. But we supplied the Poles with oil and gas at market prices, so they were forced to carry out structural and institutional reforms. Today this figure in Poland is three times as high as in Ukraine,” the Russian expert concluded.