Friday, September 4, 2020

Moscow Bans as Extremist Group Seeking to Unite Ethnic Russian Regions

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 2 – Moscow ten days ago banned as extremist the Russian Republic Rus organization, a group that had called for the formation of a country based on uniting the predominantly ethnic Russian regions into a single republic and thus threatened the existence of the Russian Federation as now constituted (

            This decision, which followed numerous court decisions in the regions which found the group, which represents the most extreme form of “Russia for the Russians,” guilty of extremism and xenophobia, highlights the dangers uncontrolled Russian nationalism presents for the regime. 

            Daily Storm journalist Mariya Nemtseva traces the history of this group back to the 1980s, its support for the Supreme Soviet in 1993, and the beginning of its end in 2014 when its ideology came into sharpest conflict with the Kremlin’s moves into Ukraine (

            As she shows, Moscow could hardly tolerate a group that stressed Russian national identity above all when it was seeking to include within the country’s borders people of a different ethnicity.  And so Russian courts began to move against a group, which seemed to prefer Soviet symbols to Russian ones, lest it get in the way.

            Now, the final curtain appears to have fallen on what many have long viewed as a marginal group. And indeed, the Russian Republic Rus (RRR) is less important as an organization than as an indication of a basic problem in Russian political life, the fundamental contradiction between Russian nationalism and Russian imperialism.

            But it is also an indication of something else that was highlighted almost 60 years ago by émigré scholar I.A. Kurganov. In a book entitled The Nations of the USSR and the Russian Question (Munich 1961), he argued that the fate of the Soviet Union depended less on what the non-Russians did than on how the ethnic Russians reacted.

            That Moscow is now moving against a group like the RRR underscores that Kurganov’s observation applies with equal force to the Russian Federation and that the Kremlin feels compelled to repress Russian nationalists independent of itself just as much as representatives of the non-Russian peoples. 

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