Staunton, March 23 –Vladislav Surkov’s appearance at a conference organized by the Union of Donbass Volunteers and his cooperation with such noxious and hitherto marginal figures like Konstantin Malofeyev and Aleksandr Boroday is less about creating a new political movement than about giving the Kremlin bullyboys to face down any Maidan, analysts say.
This meeting, which has been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic, could prove to be a turning point in Russian politics because with Surkov the group seeks to be not only a Russian nationalist party on the right and a lobbyist for new aggression in Ukraine but also a support for the Kremlin against its biggest fear, a Maidan inside Russia.
One must always keep in mind, commentator Aleksey Moshkov says, that the Kremlin most fears a Maidan and that it recognizes that its “registered” Cossacks and the Russian Guard might not be sufficient to put one down if the situation deteriorated into a series of mass protests across the country (svpressa.ru/politic/article/260360/).
Malofeyev, Surkov and their team may not be significant as a potential political party, but they could “offer the Kremlin an informal force resource, having united under the aegis of ‘Civic Forces’ the remaining Donbass fighters.” And these aren’t “homegrown Cossacks” but “real soldiers” who are battle tested.
Moshkov quotes with approval the words of another commentator, Maksim Shevchenko, who says that in that respect this would be “a very serious force” that would have to be taken seriously. It would be an instrument for political struggle” against those who might try to take power (svpressa.ru/opinions/sptv/260179/).
According to Shevchenko, “the Union of Donbass Volunteers is … a classic fascist movement, not fascist in the propagandistic sense as we now say but fascist as it was said in the 1920s” in which disappointed war veterans turned on those they believed had betrayed them. Those who fought for Novorossiya feel much the same.
Such people, the commentator continues, feel themselves to be “a new force” and are ready to fight for their place in the sun. And like the fascists in the 1920s, they are heavily influenced by poets and intellectuals. Indeed, in many respects, Surkov is the Gabriele d’Annunzio of today.
But Moshkov suggests the Kremlin will proceed cautiously with the development of such a force because it is very well aware of the dangers an alternative center with its own military force would represent. Moreover, the monarchism of Malofeyev isn’t the ideology Putin and company want to promote.
Consequently, “the Surkov-Malofeyev project” will most likely remain just that, a project. But that could all change if the Putin regime feels genuinely threatened, Moshkov concludes.