Staunton, April 10 – Many Russian nationalist believe that the Kremlin uses its anti-extremism law against them disproportionately in comparison with other groups, a conclusion with which many monitoring organizations concur. And some in both recall a Soviet-era precedent for this: Yury Andropov’s battle against the so-called “Russian Party.”
In a new article for Russian7, Dmitry Sokolov says that Andropov’s campaign in this regard is a major reason why Russian nationalism did not emerge at the end of Soviet times as did the nationalisms in many non-Russian republics of the USSR (russian7.ru/post/pochemu-i-kakimi-metodami-andropov-bor/).
Andropov began his struggle against “the Russian Party” as the unofficial congeries of cultural figures and politicians who wanted to promote Russianness was known. Despite support within the elite, it also had many opponents who viewed it as a threat to communist domination and even the territorial integrity of the country.
Russian nationalists, V.N. Ganichev of Molodaya gvardiya was among those who viewed the KGB chief as their opponent, labelling him “a Russophobe” who “hated the Russian Party and was afraid of it” and was prepared to use all available tools to isolate and expel from influential positions anyone he suspected of being a follower of that trend.
By his action, especially against Russian nationalist editors, Sokolov argues, “Andropov was able to fundamentally weaken ‘the Russian Party.’ And in the perestroika period, [that party] already did not play a major role in the social life of the USSR.”
Sokolov does not suggest that Putin has adopted Andropov’s views and tactics; but given the Kremlin leader’s origins in the KGB and his knowledge of the former KGB and CPSU leader, it seems likely that Putin is very much aware of how dangerous Russian nationalism can be in a multi-national state and so has adopted similar policies.