Friday, February 1, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Russian Nationalist Pulp Fiction Sends Some Truly Frightening Messages

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 1 – Some of the novels which have the greatest impact on readers and society are never reviewed by major media outlets or even taken seriously as a genre.  Nowhere is that more true than with regard to ultra-nationalist pulp fiction both in hard copy and online in the Russian Federation today.

            An intriguing exception to that critical neglect is offered by Maksim Sobesky today on the portal where he points out that “literature was always a favorable place for popularizing one or another political view,” including those involving Russian nationalism (

            That is far from unusual, Sobesky points out, noting that in the US the works of nationalist writers like William Pearce and David Lane articulate nationalist visions that have a wide audience but that are seldom reviewed by the mainstream media. Indeed, he says, they are virtually “an underground prose” there as there is in Russia.

            But, he continues, “unlike Western authors who describe an obvious anti-utopia, the Russian ones always are drawn to realism: in their novels there is a lot about ethnic conflicts and the way of life of the subcultures of the right.” Because that is the case, the Russian books in this category may be even more influential.

            A decade ago, Sobesky says, most such books were issued legally by the Ultra-Kultura publishing house headed by Ilya Kormiltseva, but more recently, because of the Russian government’s increasingly lengthening list of “extremist materials,” these novels and stories have gone underground and are published mostly on the Internet.

            Sobesky describes the works of five writers in this category.  First, he discusses Dmitry Nesterov, the pen name of Roman Nifontov. A longtime member of the skinhead movement, he first attracted attention among nationalists for his novel, “Skins: Rus Awakes,” that was published by Ultra-Kultura in 2003.

            It is “noteworthy,” the reviewer continues, that “old nationalists like the owner of the Vityaz publishing house Viktor Korchgin refused to publish [Nesterov’s] novel because of  its lack of a focus on unmasking Zionism.” Instead, it focused on violence and blood, and argued that a harsh response was the only way for Russians to solve “the national question.”

            Ultra-Kultura reprinted Nesterov’s book three times for a combined print run of 14,000 copies. “Crowds of young people,” Sobesky says, “went from bookstore to bookstore” trying to find copies. But they faced a problem: “law enforcement organs periodically appeared and told dealers not to sell this bestseller. Now the book is on the list of extremist literature.”

            Nesterov died in March 2009 in an apparent suicide, but many of his comrades in arms in the National Socialist Society, which was then under criminal investigation, called the finding of suicide “suspicious” because another of their number had been found dead while under arrest only a few days before.

            Dmitry Chestny is a second example of this kind of writer, Sobesky says.  He attracted attention in 2006 for his novel “The Struggle” which focuses on “’the achievements’” of skinheads. He then wrote the novel “Fire!” in which the narrator, clearly a stand in for the author, describes “why I became an ultra-rightist.”

            In 2010, Chestny published his story “Russian Will” in memory of Nesterov and his friends. After that, Sobesky says “the name of the author disappeared from RUNET.” But a search today for his name on Yandex found five million hits, indicating that those who want to read his writings will have no difficulty in gaining access to them.

            Aleksey Voevodin, a Petersburger, is the third writer Sobesky considers.  Sentenced to life imprisonment in 2005 for a series of crimes, Voevodin has been turning out novels and stories “one after another,” including his 2008 volume, “My Struggle,” a title taken from Hitler. His book too is available online even though it is on the government’s proscribed list.

            The fourth writer in this group is Kirill Arnautov, a Blagoveshchenk activist for the xenophobic Movement Against Illegal Immigration. After serving a sentence for fighting with ethnic Chinese there, he published a novel entitled “My Choice,” in which he described his experience with skinheads and law enforcement personnel.

            Fifth is Volodya Zlobin, whose “first and most successful” literary effort, Sobesky says, was his 2010 novella, “Nothing Special” about a group of opposition figures who decide to go underground but fall apart when their leader is killed.  Since then, he has published stories about struggles within the subcultures of the extreme right.

             In addition to these five, Sobesky says, there are a number of authors with “exotic pseudonyms,” including Skimen King who has written a novel, “Aryan Utopia,” about Moscow in 2017, Zigoslav Ryzhetarzanov who has written a story making fun of the anti-fascists, and Alex_S who has written about ethnic problems in Ukraine.

No comments:

Post a Comment