(Dis)Engaging Youth in Contemporary Belarus through a Pro-Presidential Youth League
- Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization
- Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University
- Volume 27, Number 3, Summer 2019
- pp. 263-286
- Additional Information
This article explores young people's engagement with the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRYU), a pro-presidential mass membership youth organization that operates in today's Belarus. Drawing on participant observation conducted inside university cells of the BRYU and semi-structured interviews with the organization's members and non-members, it seeks to understand a) what motivates youth to participate in the organization's activities regardless of the stigma attached to its negative attributes, and b) how this participation is acted out and narrated on a grassroots level. By applying Alexei Yurchak's concept of ritualized acts to analyze participation and its motivations, the study finds that young Belarusians can both engage with and disengage from the youth league and its official repertoire. The article concludes by arguing that young people's indifference toward the BRYU and its activities stems from their lifelong experience of Lukashenka's Belarus.