For the past few years, representatives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have generally shied away from talk that the group is a competitor for the West, trying to play down its original inception as a "NATO of the East." But it sounds like the youth are talking a little more loosely and ambitiously. At an "SCO Youth Forum" in Barnaul, Russia, the organization's representatives spoke bluntly about challenging the West, taking control of the Internet and -- perhaps most audaciously -- taking on Eurovision.
The modest proposal on the internet came from Denis Tyurin, the director of the SCO's "Business Club":
"In the Russian and international expert community there are plenty of questions about the current structure of the management of the internet. For the most part, a situation persists in which the 'switch' of global information networks is located in the US. Regardless of the efforts of the international community to give that system of management more balance, the Americans don't intend to give up the levers of control," Tyurin said.
The members of the SCO can exert influence on these processes. "Many of the countries in the SCO have compatible approaches to this problem," Tyurin noted. "The SCO, acting as an example for other international organizations, could become a prototype of a global system of management of the internet."
The SCO is a security bloc currently consisting of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with Mongolia, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan among the potential future participants. Of those, Russia is the only Eurovision participant (with no small amount of success, at that). And the Kremlin wants to share that experience with its allies to the East: Another plan is already in the works to create an alternative to Eurovision called "SHOS-ovision," (using the Russian acronym for SCO), said Denis Kravchenko, leader of the Russians in the youth council of the SCO:
There is Eurovision, and we see this as a great Eurasian contest. As we propose, it would consist of three parts: performance of songs in the native language, folklore, performance in the language of the host country. Imagine, for example, we could hold this SHOS-ovision in Moscow or St Petersburg. Our colleagues from the SCO would come and everyone would sing in Russian. It would be great."
Presumably he thinks it would just as great the following year for the Russian participants to participate in SHOS-ovision in Dushanbe, singing in Tajik (and after that Chinese, and Uzbek, and Kazakh, and maybe one day Mongolian and Hindi and Urdu...)
But the SCO youth were also warned to expect such skepticism about the group:
Participants in the SCO must be prepared for attempts from outside to discredit this international organization and its members, said Kiril Barskiy, special representative of the Russian President for SCO affairs.
As an example of this type of discreditating, he cited a recent report from an international organization, calling the SCO "a platform for human rights abuses."
"In the SCO, they are feeling real power in the international arena. We see, connected with this, attempts to undermine its authority in the world. We must be prepared for this. The West is losing its global leadership."
Out of the mouths of babes...