Framework

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Campers at the Seliger youth summer camp in Russia exchange guard duty on the 24-hour watch near the firewood-fed "eternal flame" devoted to the nation's World War II victory.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A class at the Seliger youth summer camp in Russia, where about 20,000 young people get training in various Kremlin-approved skills.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Blindfolded campers play a game during a training class at the Seliger youth summer camp in Russia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

The daily morning exercise is in full swing at the Seliger youth summer camp in Russia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A camper plays the guitar during leisure time at the Seliger youth summer camp in Russia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Posters bearing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's image line a trail at the Seliger youth summer camp in Russia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin talks to about 5,000 young people at the Seliger youth summer camp in Russia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin receives a note during his appearance before 5,000 young people in the Seliger youth summer camp in Russia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

Campers are instructed in a martial arts class before they can join Vladimir Putin Fight Club at the Seliger youth summer camp in Russia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A camper at the Seliger youth summer camp in Russia passes by the "Losers of the Year" posters, including one with the image of imprisoned ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, foreground, and others depicting opposition leaders.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A poster at the Seliger youth summer camp in Russia features the phrase "The Change" and an image of President Dmitry Medvedev that transforms into that of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

A camp guard passes by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's portrait at the Seliger youth summer camp.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times

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They wake up to the Russian national anthem and gather near the main stage lined with huge portraits of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his boss (on paper, at least), President Dmitry Medvedev, where they do their morning exercises to music interrupted periodically by recorded quotations from both leaders.

As the day goes on, they are taught how to keep secrets from journalists, how to be active on the Internet, how to set up youth organizations and how to raise funds. They are trained in martial arts by an expert from the Vladimir Putin Fight Club and instructed to read books suggested by Putin.

In this sprawling Kremlin-sponsored youth camp 220 miles northwest of Moscow — 99 acres of white sand, tall pines and Lake Seliger, a jewel of Russian nature — thousands of young men and women are learning how to be supporters of the ruling United Russia party, future politicians and senior government officials.

The forum teaches them how to keep secrets from journalists, raise funds and organize, but most of those at Lake Seliger seem less interested in the Kremlin than in climbing the social ladder.

Read Sergei Loiko’s story.

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