Saturday, July 12, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Ever More Extreme Nationalists and Fascists Emerging in Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 12 – A decade ago, right-wing ideologues like Dugin and Prokhanov were viewed as marginal figures. Now, they have become almost “the official ideologues of the Russian state,” according to Igor Yakovenko. But as that has happened, an even more extreme nationalist and fascist Pfringe has emerged and is seeking to displace them, a process that bodes ill for the future.

            In a commentary carried by a Kyiv paper yesterday, Yakovenko said that this dangerous trend is exemplified by the rise of Yegor Prosvirin, editor of the “Sputnik i Pogrom” Internet portal and rated as the second most influential intellectual of Russia in a survey conducted last year by liberal portal, (

            To make his point, Yakovenko quotes from Prosvirin’s writing and statements. Among the latter’s notions is that “unfortunately, a large part of the multi-national elite” of Russia doesn’t understand that the era of internationalism is over and that “an era has begun” in which one must declare one’s “loyalty to this or that nation.”

            Those who support Ukraine against Russia, Prosvirin says, are Ukrainians; those who “collect humanitarian aid” for Slovyansk are Russians.  Those in Moscow who opposed the annexation of Crimea aren’t “traitors.” Rather, they are “simply non-Russians.” Today, he continues, one must declare one’s nationality and act accordingly.

            “Many Russians already understand,” Prosvirin says, “that dialogue with Ukrainians is impossible.” They now must recognize that “the multi-national intelligentsia living in Russia is an extension of Ukrainians and their propaganda” and consists of “people who have publicly rejected loyalty to our nation and show loyalty to Nazi Ukraine.”

            Because “fascist ideology needs a fuhrer,” many of the Prokhanovs and Dugins had placed their hopes in Putin, Yakovenko said, but Prosvirin sees Strelkov as the leader of the future because Putin is not sending troops into eastern Ukraine and has not set Kyiv as the goal of such a campaign.

             As Yakovenko pointed out, “all four totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century – fascism, Bolshevism, national-socialism, and Islamism – were born out of the troubles and chaos of World War I” and were in each case “a response to this chaos, time of troubles, and national humiliation.”

            “The new Putin majority,” Yakovenko said, is animated by the same sense of national humiliation and the need to overcome it. But given that Putin is unwilling or unable to fulfill this majority’s expectations, others like Strelkov and Prosvirin have emerged to carry this “cause” further.

            Writing not long ago in “Novaya gazeta,” Moscow commentator Dmity Bykov suggested that the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine had literary roots in the works of people like Igor Girkin-Strelkov, Fedor Berzin, Andrey Valentinov, and others of their kind, who are animated by imperialism and a hatred of the West.

             “The Prokhanovs, Dugins, Prosvirins, and Girkins, along with the Shakhnazarovs are deeply mistaken when they suggest that the fate of ‘the Russian world’ and Russian civilization are being decided in Donetsk and Luhansk,” Yakovenko argued.  “In fact, its fate rests not with materiel but in the ink of writers” like these.

            “If Russian civilization should prove able to give the world another Chekhov or Nabokov, he concluded, “the Russian world will grow.” But if the best it can do is to give one like Prosvirin or Strelkov, then its future will be very bleak indeed.

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