Staunton, October 28 – Georgy Pavlov, the longtime leader of Russian nationalists in Pskov who gained notoriety for his attacks on liberal Russian politicians and spent time in prison for sparking inter-ethnic hostility, now has changed his tune: he is ready to work with the liberals and anyone else to challenge Putin and end the incarceration of all who think differently.
His evolution has been striking. In 2012, Pavlov was talking about purity of blood and demanded a purely Russian state. In 2014, he backed Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and called upon prosecutors to check out Pskov Yabloko leader Lev Shlosberg. But he has now dropped his earlier slogans and is focused on ending the imprisonment of people for their views.
“Political prisoners are ow the most important item on the agenda,” he tells Lyudmila Savitskaya of MBK news. Now the regime is cracking down on all those who are against the regime, and those who are must come together to oppose and ultimately over throw it (mbk-news.appspot.com/region/esli-chelovek-za-putina-t/).
Divisions among Russian nationalists emerged after the annexation of Crimea, Pavlov continues; and it was at that time that he began his own political evolution from the man who was known in the oblast as “Gosha the Aryan” who urged the use of physical violence against immigrants and liberals to a defender of political freedoms and human rights.
The reformed Russian nationalist says is earlier attitudes reflected “youthful maximalism. It is just the case,” he says, “that at that time I was more radical and now I have become more moderate. Now, I do not see many of the activists of that time among the opposition and at actions.”
By 2017, he had made the retirement of Putin and his government the centerpiece of his movement and thus attracted support from Navalny’s supporters and from Open Russia. Pavlov says he backs Navalny’s call to do away with Articles 280 and 282 of the Russian criminal code that allow the state to punish people for their views.
Pavlov still believes that the current regime is destroying the ethnic Russians and keeping natives of the country out of positions of power. And he says bluntly: “If someone is for Putin, then he isn’t a nationalist” because the Putin regime is working against the Russian nation.
It is possible, he concludes, that a Putin supporter may be a patriot or a monarchist but there is no chance that he is a Russian nationalist, committed to the best interests of the Russian people.