Nashi’s Yakemenko Out but Back In?

Nashi is having trouble in naming a new leader, reports Kommersant. In a press conference yesterday Nashi leader Vasilii Yakemenko announced that Nikita Borovikov will head Nashi after he steps down after the 2008 elections. Many believe that Yakemenko is slated to head a new government department on youth policy.

But the announcement wasn’t free of controversy. It was known that Yakemenko favored Voronezh Commissar Marina Zademid’kova to lead Nashi. Apparently, according to a anonymous source Yakemenko’s favorite was squashed by Vladislav Surkov himself. “Surkov told [Yakemenko] that he was crazy and that [choosing] Zademid’kova had to reversed, therefore she lost,” the source said. If the source is correct, the intervention of Surkov suggests that the Kremlin isn’t going to let Nashi’s fate be decided without their approval.

Kommersant also states that the interference of the Kremlin’s chief ideologue has threatened to undermine Nashi’s charter. Yakemenko denied that Borovikov was a shoe in for the post. Borovikov himself suggested that there would be a primary “like in real elections” for the next leader of Nashi. Could Nashi be headed for a crisis in leadership?

Kommersant suggests that one problem is that it appears that the Kremlin is unsure of what Nashi’s future direction will be; a future that is certainly tied to Yakemenko’s. Putin seems undecided whether a centralized youth policy is even feasible. “Establishing a single center for youth management–I think that’s in the past,” Putin said in a meeting with pro-Kremlin youth groups on 24 July. “Instead, the state should create conditions that enable young people to achieve their potential – in careers, private life, culture, and politics.” In addition to Nashi, several youth groups back the Kremlin–Mestnye, Molodaia gvardiia, Molodaia Rossiia, Novye Liudi, and Nasha strana. The Kremlin might just decide that getting youth to achieve their potential might best be accomplished through diversity (but not too diverse!).

And this lack of concrete policy has Yakemenko in stasis. He looks to leave Nashi, but current conditions require him to stay and possibly require him to prove himself useful for the future. As Yabloko youth leader, Ilya Yashin told Kommersant, “They gave him the understanding that first it is necessary for him to curry favor, and they gave him the motivation–to lead more actively in the election period. If he can prove himself necessary, then he could get something in return.”