Staunton, Nov. 2 – Although seldom the focus of the Russian media or the criminal justice system, Russia’s neo-Nazis have grown dramatically in number and activity in recent months, according to the Nazi Video Monitoring Project (NVMP) and the SOVA human rights center, Dima Shvets of Zona.Media reports.
After an upsurge in the 1990s, neo-Nazis in the first years of the Putin regime were largely suppress through a series of judicial actions that put many of their leaders behind bars. But a new generation, generally young, is now taking to the Internet to promote its views; and they are succeeding (zona.media/article/2023/11/04/4-november).
But this new wave of neo-Nazi activity in Russia is not all Putin, Shvets says. Many of those involved may support the Kremlin leader for his attacks on gays and other minorities, but they oppose his war in Ukraine. Fighting ‘the fraternal Ukrainians’ when as a result of immigration Mocow every month is becoming more like Tashkent is insanity,” they say.
Thus, while both NVMP and SOVA link the rise in neo-Nazism to the militarization of Russian life as a result of Putin’s war in Ukraine, they suggest that it is having some unintended consequences, in part because the Kremlin does not yet appear to view this trend as a threat to itself, although it appears clear that under certain circumstances it could become one.
At the very least, this development is yet another way that Putin’s war abroad is coming home to Russia, with ever more people there prepared to use violence not as the regime at least ostensibly wants but for their own goals and in ways that inevitably will further undermine social cohesion but also spark demands for ever more draconian measures against such groups.