Friday, March 27, 2009

Russia's youth opposition is its new enemy

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — The spy was only 20, a soft-spoken college student with a pouty smile and a double life. She had 40 agents working for her and dossiers piling up in her home computer. She revved up recruits with talk of an enemy bent on government overthrow.Anna Bukovskaya's band of young spies stalked about western Russia like Cold War operatives, infiltrating the enemy, jotting down names and numbers, and at times using hidden cameras to film targets.The fruits of her network's espionage were eventually relayed to the Russian government, Bukovskaya says. And the enemy? They were young Russians just like her, though young Russians belonging to youth groups critical of the Kremlin and Russian authorities.It all was very seamy, Bukovskaya says, and ultimately too much for her conscience to bear.

"I'm very sorry I took part in this," says Bukovskaya, her hands clasped on the table of a noisy cafe in downtown St. Petersburg. "The government is exploiting young, impressionable minds — controlling them and tempting them with money. It's not very nice."


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