Meanwhile, May 7 marked the second anniversary of Putin’s inauguration as head of state. In honor of the occasion, Idushiye Vmeste (Walking Together), the irrepressible pro-Putin youth movement that the Russian press has dubbed the “Pusumol,” held a demonstration yesterday on Red Square, bussing in 35,000 Putin T-shirt-clad teenage activists from Moscow’s suburbs. They were addressed by Vasily Yakimenko, Walking Together’s 30-something leader, who called for, as NTVru.com put it, “the removal from Russia of all of those who do not agree with policy of the new president,” adding “threateningly and significantly” that those who have not decided where they stand better hurry up and do so.
During last year’s May 7 demonstration by Walking Together, Yakimenko proclaimed that Russia’s youth had finally “turned their face toward Russia, and their you-know-what toward the West,” was shoving aside “all Western nonsense” and had at last understood that what was most important was not “Western values, but preserving the system of relations handed down to us by our own history” (see the Monitor, May 8, 2001). This year, Yakimenko’s call for politically motivated deportations elicited, according to NTVru.com, an “animated response” from the Walking Together crowd. The website added, however, that many of those at the demonstration did not share Yakimenko’s views and that some were even led to Red Square on false pretenses, having been told they were going to honor war veterans, not attend a Putin pep rally.