Russia’s Public Health Nationalism

youthguard072208.jpgAfter helping sweep Putin’s political party United Russia to another overwhelming victory in the last presidential elections through a series of intimidations and harassment incidents, what’s left to do for the state-funded youth groups? Start protesting within the public health debate of course, and attacking those who advocate methadone treatments for heroin addicts as “paid agents of the West.” The New York Times has a very peculiar story today about the rise of Russia’s public health nationalism, narco-propaganda, and the country’s crisis of HIV/AIDS and drug addiction. It seems unclear whether or not the Youth Guard has a real, vested interest in pushing one health solution over another, or whether the government is interested in keeping them busy with side issues should they be needed again to mobilize against the slightest murmur of a color revolution among the moribund civil society. Who knows what cause we’ll see these idle groups thrown into next?