Friday, October 30, 2015

Kremlin Banned ‘Russians’ Group Out of Fear of Nationalist Uprisings, Solovey

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 30 – The Kremlin’s decision to ban the “Russians” group reflects fears in the Kremlin that Russian nationalist organizations are the most likely to organize uprisings against the authorities, Valery Solovey says, but the regime’s actions simply drives these groups underground and makes them more conspiratorial rather than less.

            In an interview with NDNews, Solovey, a professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, says that he is not surprised by this latest ban of a Russian nationalist group.  The Russian government has been moving in this direction for some time (

            “The main cause of the ban,” he continues, “is the fear of the authorities about popular uprisings” in the country as social-economic conditions continue to deteriorate.   The authorities “very much fear” that those who have experience in street fighting and combat are the most dangerous, and those are “not the liberals but the nationalists.”

            As far as the political consequences of this ban are concerned, Solovey says, “the nationalists have always considered the political regime as their enemy. Now, they are finally convinced that they do not have anything in common with it,” even if they did support the annexation of Crimea.

            But instead of being rewarded for their support, he adds, the Russian nationalists did not get “any dividends” and there was “no change in the attitude of the authorities toward the nationalists” who continue to be viewed by those in power as an independent and therefore dangerous social force.

            This is leading Russian nationalists in two directions, Solovey says. On the one hand, it is causing some of them to consider joining with any other group opposed to the regime, including liberal and leftist ones, an alliance that could set the stage for broader challenges to the Putin regime.

            And on the other, it is driving Russian nationalism underground.  It is ridiculous to say that the ban effectively ends “political nationalism” in Russia, as Dmitry Demushkin recently did. “Nationalism will continue to exist,” Solovey says, but now in an even more “conspiratorial form.” 
            For the time being, the MGIMO expert continues, Russian nationalists will meet in private and wait for their time. But conspiracy by its very nature requires “extremely radical actions,” and those will eventually be forthcoming, possibly from those who have never occupied public prominence.

            But there may be an even more important consequence of this ban, at least in the short term. Solovey suggests that the authorities will now turn “not only on the nationalists but also on the liberals, preferably after the New Year.” That is the way the powers that be “will prepare for the Duma elections.”

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