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Russia Creates List Of 'Talented' Youth

Vasily Yakemenko, chairman of Russia's Federal Youth Affairs Agency
Vasily Yakemenko, chairman of Russia's Federal Youth Affairs Agency
MOSCOW -- The Russian government has announced the formation of a national registry of "talented young people," RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Vasily Yakemenko, chairman of Russia's Federal Youth Affairs Agency, says the registry already comprises 25,000 names.

The agency has not disclosed who is on the list, but Yakemenko said it includes winners of international sports competitions and young entrepreneurs who paid high amounts in taxes last year. He said journalists with popular blogs could also be included.

Yakemenko is a founder of the pro-Kremlin youth organization Nashi, which he headed from 2005-2007.

Experts are wary that the list means the creation of a "national elite."

Gleb Cherkasov, political editor of the daily newspaper "Kommersant," told RFE/RL that he has a lot of questions about the list.

"Why select only 25,000? And who chose the 25,000?" Cherkasov asked. "Yakemenko says it is part of an international Olympiad. Okay. But then, where is the registry written? And what does it actually mean [to be included]?"

United Russia deputy and Nashi member Robert Shlegel says Yakemenko's idea is a great way to recognize the country's most talented young people.

"I have been meeting talented young people all over the country -- at different competitions and Olympiads, at the Seliger [youth camp]," he said. "It's time for regional officials to recognize these young people."

In 2005, Nashi founded a youth camp in Seliger, a lake region outside Tver. Last week, the Russian government announced plans for another youth camp near Sochi.