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#4 - JRL 7186
BBC Monitoring
Up to 1,200 Moscow children join Soviet-style youth organization
Source: TVS, Moscow, in Russian 1100 gmt 18 May 03

[Presenter] The Soviet-era Young Pioneer Organization will be 81 tomorrow. Sometimes it seems to have been entirely forgotten But this morning Red Square looked as if the last 15 years of Russian history did not exist at all. The square was cordoned off, while several hundred schoolchildren formed a line in front of Lenin's mausoleum and waited for red ties to be tied on their necks. Vyacheslav Guz joins us with a story about young pioneers of the 21st century.

[Correspondent] Old attributes, like drums, bugles and banners, are still there. The contents have slightly changed. The main rule is that joining the organization is voluntary [the membership was obligatory for all children between 10 and 14 during the Soviet period]. The organization is not political any more. Lenin's name disappeared from its title after the fall of the USSR.

However, in reality politics was present in Red Square. The new generation of pioneers was receiving red ties from Communist leader Gennadiy Zyuganov...

The adult participants of the ceremony were inspired by the number of children who gathered in Red Square. Until recently, the Moscow Region branch of the Young Pioneer Organization has had a membership of about 5,000 boys and girls. Today, up to 1,200 children joined its ranks. Tens of thousands did the same throughout Russia...

[Correspondent, speaking to Yuliya Reunova captioned as chairman of the Moscow Region branch of the Young Pioneer Organization] No politics, you say, but Mr Zyuganov is welcome.

[Reunova] Of course, because he is a good organther all these children and organize everything.

[Correspondent] And you can't gather that many children?

[Reunova] No, I can't.

[Correspondent] At the end of the ceremony Zyuganov had a photo session with children. Then the children laid flowers at Lenin's mausoleum and came in to see him. It's another tradition. Protesters from [radical left-wing organization] Working Russia gave them last instructions before visiting the sacred grave.

[Old woman] No to capitalism in Russia! Capitalism is evil!

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