Russian Nationalists March On, Under Kremlin’s Wary Gaze

Robert Coalson, Radio Free Europe, November 3, 2014

Russia’s nationalists will be on the march this week. And the Kremlin will be looking on–somewhat warily.

Russia’s motley nationalist community will hold its annual Russian March on November 4, an event traditionally held to coincide with the official Unity Day holiday. The main event is in Moscow, but spin-off marches will be held in various Russian cities and–for the first time this year–in the Ukrainian region of Crimea that was annexed by Russia in March.

Although President Vladimir Putin and his government have moved sharply in the direction of nationalism and patriotism over the last year, the authorities have turned a surprisingly cold shoulder to the Russian March this year. Instead of being held in the center of Moscow as organizers originally hoped, it has been pushed to the edge of the city.

This attitude seems to be driven by the Kremlin’s long-term ambiguous relationship with the country’s nationalists, many of whom are too radical and too disenchanted with Putin’s leadership for the Kremlin to tolerate.

On October 24, Putin touched on the topic in his speech to Russia experts of the Valdai Club in Sochi.

“I am the biggest nationalist in Russia,” he said. “However, the greatest and most appropriate kind of nationalism is when you act and conduct policies that will benefit the people. However, if nationalism means intolerance of other people, chauvinism–this would destroy this country, which was created as a multiethnic and multiconfessional state.”

With this statement, Putin was “trying to define the acceptable parameters of nationalism,” says Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University and author of the blog “In Moscow’s Shadows.”

“He’s trying to redefine or define the acceptable level of nationalism as being not about racism, not about intercommunal violence or intercommunal tensions, not about essentially a radical social agenda,” he says. “But instead being about patriotism. I think that’s the key thing. When he says ‘nationalism,’ he really means patriotism–in other words, loyalty to the status quo.”

And the Kremlin seems to have plenty of reason for concern. Although various nationalist movements have been providing much of the material support and many of the volunteer fighters for the conflict in eastern Ukraine, some have grown disenchanted with Moscow’s on-again, off-again backing of pro-Russian separatists there. Many are pushing for far more radical agendas, both in Ukraine and at home.

The Russian March has been held annually since 2005, when National Unity Day, which commemorates Russia’s defeat of Polish invaders in 1612, was introduced. The holiday replaced the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

And the Kremlin is attempting to paint the day in patriotic, rather than nationalist, colors.

Putin is scheduled to lay flowers at the monument to Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, who led the forces that expelled the Poles from Moscow in 1612, according to the Kremlin press service. He will also visit an exhibition commemorating the Rurik dynasty, which ruled from 862-1598.

This year’s Russian March takes place with one of the country’s most high profile nationalists, anticorruption blogger and opposition figure Aleksei Navalny, under house arrest. But if the threat from the charismatic Navalny has been reduced, a new one could be emerging.

“Putin is no nationalist–he’s just a spectator,” Yegor Prosvirnin, the editor of the popular nationalist website Sputnik & Pogrom, said in a recent interview. “He was put there by the ruling corporation to manage the political process, while the noble members of the secret police buy villas and mansions in Cote d’Azur.”

Ethnic Nationalists Vs. Imperialists 

The Kremlin has strictly reduced the appearances of staunch nationalists like Aleksandr Dugin and Aleksandr Prokhanov on national state television. Possibly as a result, public support for the Russian March is lukewarm, with just 31 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of the event according to a Levada Center poll last month.

Alina Polyakova, a senior research fellow at the University of Bern and a specialist on the far right in Europe, says the conflict in Ukraine is emphasizing the split within Russia’s nationalist community between patriotic, pro-state, imperialist nationalists and those focused on Russians as an ethnic group.

“What has been really interesting to observe are the factions between what we are calling the ‘ethnic nationalists’ and the ‘state nationalists’ really coming to the fore right now following the Ukrainian crisis and also the annexation of Crimea,” she says. “I think this is something that has stayed in the shadows for a very long time.”

In addition, she says, the Kremlin has been actively reaching out to–and even assisting–far-right, nationalist political parties and organizations across Europe, even inviting them to send monitors to elections in Crimea and in Russia. Such policies also could be “fuelling resentment among the Russian ethnic-nationalists.”

Galeotti argues there are four key pillars of the Russian nationalist movement–imperialism, social conservatism (support for the Russian Orthodox Church and antipathy toward homosexuality), ethnic chauvinism, and an economic radicalism of redistribution based on ethnic criteria.

On the first two points, Galeotti argues, Putin has done just about as much as he can to meet nationalist expectations. And the last two are too dangerous and anti-Kremlin to even be touched.

“[The Kremlin’s] opportunities for traction on the nationalist movement are diminished and the risks within nationalism are increasing,” he says. “So I think that’s why they are probably trying to nip it in bud prophylactically now.”

Kevin Rothrock, editor of RuNet Echo at Global Voices, notes that Prosvirnin and other nationalist leaders have been predicting that the worsening economic climate in Russia will bring ethnic tensions inside the country to the fore.

This is potentially dangerous for Putin, although Rothrock does not expect the issue to take center stage at this year’s Russian March.

“If they get at all a little bit antigovernment, it might have to do more with immigration services–don’t give visas to people from Central Asia and so on,” he says. “They are even officially marching under some of those slogans. Granted, those are not overtly anti-Putin causes, but I think immigration and the kind of slippery slope into ethnic issues or racism–that can very quickly become anti-Kremlin and then anti-Putin.”

Topics:

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Easyrhino

    One reason Putin is despised by the West is he arrested the oligarchs and confiscated most of their ill gotten spoils gained from looting the country when the USSR broke up. And most of those oligarchs are from a specific group that is used to being kowtowed to.

    Also, the Crimea wasn’t “annexed”, the citizens of Crimea voted to secede.

    • SlizzardAjeosshi

      Putin is one of the most, if not the most, pre-Jews leader in the history of Russia.

      Holocaust denial laws in Russia are brutal, while his relationship with Israel ranges from very good to excellent.

      Putin in general is not a white nationalist, he’s definitely not a lib but his nationalism has deep roots in Russian (and Eastern European) anti-western revanchisme and identity.

      Echoes of this ideology can be found in Dugin work and in the pan-Turanism movement.

      He is a guy who is heavily flirting with the idea of anti-American Eurasian alliance with China et al.

      He gave his blessing to his daughter marrying a Korean Navy officer and pretty much mortgaged Russia natural resources to China through long terms financing/supplying deals between companies like Gazprom and Rosneft on one side and various Chinese state vehicles on the other side

      • SlizzardAjeosshi

        In fact i believe Russia’s biggest threat nowadays lies in the risk of falling into the Chinese tributary order

  • LHathaway

    Calling Jared Taylor.

  • I see nothing worthwhile or worth defending in Nationalism if it isn’t centered around Racialism. Regardless of what kind of Nationalist Putin is, he is still a thousand times better than the kind of leaders we have to deal with.

    • LHathaway

      Yes, hiding ones racial fear or self-interest behind the color of one’s flag does nothing substantial to delay the eventuality of whites living as a minority under that flag. Living as a hated and persecuted minority. Hey, if it amuses non-whites, it’s worth it.

      Complacency did nothing for whites in America. Neither did our superior genes. Or IQ’s.

    • Publius Pompilius Quietus

      Putin is a difficult man to figure, and perhaps we Anglophones can’t accurately judge him, but it is to his credit that we avoided a travesty invasion of Syria. If anything, he seems resistant to the New World Order, so I consider him a positive player on the world scene from a nationalist/realist perspective.

      • ShermanTMcCoy

        I agree. Vladimir Vladimirovich isn’t perfect, though he’s light years ahead of the Kenyan. I mean, if we had to illegally elect a foreigner to the highest office in the land, why couldn’t it have been Volodya?

        • SlizzardAjeosshi

          I think even quite a few Central Asian heads of bizzarro oil thugocracies are positively ahead of Barry in terms of competence

    • M&S

      Racialism inevitably devolves down to identity politics -as stated by the brand name owner-. If I say you aren’t white enough because you want nationalism for a faceless entity called ‘Russia’ whereas I am about putting X before Y on a population basis, those whom I have shaped groomed to feel themselves victims will instantly see their position as being one of advantaged gain -justified- by their persecution complex.
      This kind of goat sale can rapidly lead to LCD rule by mob by which the leader is retained only so long as he provides sport as the sensation of being better than someone else. And replevin as the potential to benefit by giving allegiance to a partisan belief.
      It is likely a natural psychology (Greenspan once suggested it was as an excuse to rob Americans and reset the class system) and one which is being accelerated by the Russian isolative exclusion from global society (again).
      Yet Putin cannot afford to be tarred by it on a guilt through association basis.
      Putin NEEDS to acknowledge Russian ‘home team’ racial/ethnic privilege and preference (as recently as last year, Russians helping the homeless turned away when Armenian and Azerbaijani migrant laborers showed up, looking for their own blankets and food).
      The easiest way to do this would be through programs like Hitler’s food for labor programs that put 200,000 homeless under a roof by Winter 1933 (the same year he took office), combined with the Japanese system of local community services government administrators by which ‘outside contact’ (ironically with drunken Russian sailors, spoiling port bathhouses) is controlled and communities bought off with special privileges, assured by behind-closed-doors meetings with local town leaders, can be used to minimize hurt feelings as a sense of lost status.
      “You are still our favorites, never forget that.” Can be an act of civil construction, new fire and medical investment, even simple improvements in residencies from the grey-days of the Soviet era prefab blockhouse apartments where nothing worked because there was no pride.

      But at the same time, a place MUST be made, at least temporarily, for guest workers. Russia didn’t lose 25 million lives in WWII, it was closer to 60-75 million. She had only /just/ reachieved her prewar population levels at the time of the fall of the Soviet Union. She then hemorrhaged citizens again during the 1998-2008
      emigration crisis and the virtual collapse of the ex-Soviet healthcare and welfare state assurances of a mobbed up, free fall, economy.
      Only recently have Russian women again begun to have kids and raise large families which means ‘the jobs Americans won’t do’ translates to the jobs Russians /can’t/ because they retain a sizeable territorial commitment to highly dispersed population clusters. Without access to the CIS populations as basic labor.
      Do what you need to, to get along. Then send the ‘think they are immigrants’ home when you have stabilized your country and are out of the eye of the globalist egalitarian spotlight.
      Minimal improvements to immigrant housing and status of living, transferring ethnic Russians, chock a block, to better conditions to buy their loyalties and generally minding your Ps and Qs, internationally, to keep from getting into any heavy hitting moral or ethical debates (is Syria really of critical state interest?) is the path forward for Russia.
      Heck, it might be the path here too if we would just get past the sink-or-swim notion of whites being undeserving of a little quality of life assurance and ego pickmeup in their own homelands.

  • Given that Putin has China with its massive population along his borders, he can’t exactly come out and promote white supremacy. However, he can promote tradition, Christianity, and a Russian patriotism. So long as open borders policies are not adopted by Russia, Putin is resisting the New World Order, and is paying the price for his resistance.

    • StillModerated

      Siberia is seriously underpopulated due to high abortion rates during the Soviet era, and the Chinese are sauntering across the border to open restaurants, laundries and whatever other schlep work the Russians need done. They also perform garbage collection from hospitals and recycle medical waste like blood bags and convert the plastic into stuffing for teddy bears which are then sold to the West. China is also into forgery of prescription drugs on a large scale.
      Stay tuned.

    • Ultimate187

      Putin: I’m going to promote white supremacy

      China: I don’t give a damn unless you start seig-heiling in the streets.

  • IstvanIN

    Sometimes I like Putin, sometimes I am wary, but most of the time I just don’t know what to make of him. History will tell.

    • Tim_in_Indiana

      He’s been called Russia’s inscrutable “black box” for a reason.

    • SlizzardAjeosshi

      My feeling is that Putin is mostly about Putin, he can be a globalist, a nationalist, pro-White, pro-Asia, it doesn’t matter as long as it favors Putin personal power.

      He’s clearly not an idiot and overall he doesn’t lack common sense but i wouldn’t call him a very principled statesman

  • Kenner

    I’m disappointed, I’d hoped for a Franco for Russia, and Putin’s acting like an African ‘Big Man’.
    $57 BILLION on the Olympics that could have been spent on housing, on teaching Russians how to start small businesses, loaning them seed money, infrastructure; tech, even the military. He might as well have spent it on rims, grills, and weaves.

    Grabbing the Crimea was brilliant, but a long-running on-again, off-again war with the Ukraine is starting to squeeze Russia’s economy.
    He might as well grab what he wants and get it over with. [Sorry, Ukes.]

    • benvad

      Ukraine belongs to Russia and Ukrainians know this. These places have always been ruled by Russians.

  • bilderbuster

    During Stalin’s darkest hour, when it seemed the USSR would fall to the Blitzkrieg, he stopped with the communist propaganda and switched it to calling on the spirit of nationalism and the Great White Russians.

  • lib1

    Putin is a nationalist when the mood suits him. It’s not like he’s ever danced to the tune of political correctness, so why close the door on racialism or ethnic nationalism? He may as well embrace it. Sighh, a waste.

  • mac Grath

    Putin is walking a tightrope. On the one hand he is damn sure well aware of the NWO’s racial plots against the white west but has to work with the PC addled EU and Soros and company’s tribal string pullers controlling the US and Canada. Vice news has a long running 83 part video section on the Ukraine disaster called Russian Roulette and I have yet to see a brown face anywhere in the Ukraine. The Nationalists in Russia are absolutely aware that if they fall prey to the NWO its good bye white Russia. I believe whites have awakened and we are on the cusp of a movement to retake the white west. The great fear of the NWO gang is the white west hooking up with the white east and throwing off this yoke. This is partly the source of the anti Putin hysteria gripping western media egged on by the string pullers behind the curtain. Also, the current NWO engineered collapse of oil prices is a direct assault on the Russian economy as half their revenue comes from oil and gas sales and priced below 80 dollars a barrel will cause a good deal of economic / political pain for Putin. Im not worried as the internet is the new Guttenberg press and way too many people are awake. Our time is coming.

  • jayvbellis

    Putin is the best Russian leader since my ancestor Catherine the Great. Putin is also the best Shite leader since the end ofWorld War II. Maybe Pinochet in Chile was the best.

    Putin’s policy towards the tribe, Middle East are also great. The tribe is allowed to be in Russia and do rather well. But, there are clear limits . Google image what happened to the Tribe Yukos Oil oligarch who tried to set up American style TV networks.

    Putin put him in a public cage, the. Sent hi. To hard labor in Siberia!

    Same was done to lesbian cultural marxistsPussy Riot that desecrated an historic Russian Orthodox Church.

    If you are feeling depressed, search for videos of Putin directed Cossacks whipping FEMEN protesters at the Winter Olympics.

    Somehow I don’t think the Weinstein Brothers will be opening D’Jango Unchained in Russia on Christmas Day.

    Ha ha.

    God bless Czar Putin.

  • Massif1

    Putin doesn’t care about anything except staying in power. His girlfriend is of Tatar origin and his daughter is married a Korean few years ago.

  • I think the difference is that the activist nationalists are true ethnonationalists slash blood and soil nationalists slash ethnostatists in the dictionary sense of the word, while Putin is in his soul a true nationalist but in his practical politics of expediency is what I like to call a “practical nationalist,” maybe a “citizenist” as Steve Sailer describes it. I think considering the circumstances he has to deal with in the world he really lives in, Putin is doing the best he can for the cause that the street activists really want, but he has to nuance it around hard realities, among which include that if you think Victoria Nuland and Co. are busting his chops now, it’ll be a hundred times worse if Putin engages in the policies that true nationalism requires.

  • Brady

    These anti-Putin “nationalists”, live Svoboda, are just playing straight into hands of the US and the EU. Right in form, left in essence.

  • Fr. John+

    “Galeotti argues there are four key pillars of the Russian nationalist movement–imperialism, social conservatism (support for the Russian Orthodox Church and antipathy toward homosexuality), ethnic chauvinism, and an economic radicalism of redistribution based on ethnic criteria.”

    He says this like it’s a bad thing, or something….
    Christus Vivat. Christus Regnat. Christus Imperator.

  • LeonNJ

    I’m not a fan of Putin at all. I think he has a Napoleon complex mixed with his KGB past, mixed with his statements in the past saying that the fall of the Soviet empire was the worst day for him. Put that all together and we have Putin. Plus he’s past the age of 60 which I think makes him more impatient than past years since he wants to bring back Russia back to its glory days before he passes or gets to ill health.

  • commandergreen

    Get the nukes and burn this world to the ground, better that then letting it become niggerfied.