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IV. The Great Russian Restoration: The State of Opposition Nationalist Politics in Russia
As per tradition, let’s start with some war updates:
The Russian army appears to follow a bomb, advance, surround order of operations. The first cycle ended about a week ago and we are back on the bomb phase now.
A base in Lvov/Lviv was bombed and many foreign volunteers/mercenaries were liquidated.
The SBU or a Galician militia killed an NYT journalist who was apparently not on the job at the time.
The southern front is advancing, but doesn’t seem keen on over-exerting itself.
Azov and other “Natz-Bat" (nationalist-battalions) militias are embedded tight as ticks in the cities and doing all they can to not allow civilians to leave the surrounded cities along the humanitarian corridors.
“Traitors” in the Ukrainian government, clergy and just regular civilians continue to be executed by these brave defenders of Liberty and Human Rights Freedom Democracy.
Advances along the eastern front continue, but slowly. The whole area is considered a “heavily fortified area” and the Russian plan appears to be to apply pressure to prevent retreat, surround this area from behind and to not storm it head-on.
The noose around Kiev continue to close, with the Russian army methodically taking up positions from the east and moving south as well.
The Jewish rapper Oxxxymiron, who is vocally anti-Putin and pro-Kiev is holding a concert in Istanbul to raise money for the war effort in Ukraine. He has been banned from performing in Russia.
And let’s leave it there for now - we’ve still got a lot of Russian political lore to cover for today.
Consider American politics, which are based on the White/Black divide. Conservatives are the de-facto White party and the Democrats are the explicitly pro-POC party. All debate revolves around race and its relation to America’s history and the current socio-economic situation in the country. This is not unique to the United States - all countries have fault lines of political debate around which all politicking revolves. In Russia, for the last 30 years, the debate has revolved around endless debates about the Soviet Union and its legacy. In other words, your attitude to the Soviet Union determines where you fit on the political spectrum.
So, the Liberals and the Nationalists are at one end of the spectrum and vocally attack the Soviet Union and everything that it stood for while the Communists, as one would guess, are pro-USSR. Putin and his people fit in the middle of his spectrum and try to reconcile the Soviet past with the Imperial legacy and the Russian present.
As a result, Communists accuse Putin of being too Liberal and Capitalist and the “Nats-Libs” accuse him of being a secret Communist.
The pro-Soviet crowd are much older, socially conservative and economically “left” in the sense that they support large government programs, national industry and economic protectionism. The Nats-Libs are younger, more libertine and believe in the promise of the global, integrated, “free” market.
With all this in mind, it should be clear why it is so difficult for Westerners to wrap their head around the political situation in Russia, especially members of the formerly Anglo-Saxon world, where these camps are literally inverted. Again, in America, the social-conservatives are also defenders of the free market. Even more bafflingly, the Communist Party in Russia is pro-Orthodox and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Gennadiy Zyuganov rally without a priest present at it on stage, microphone and crucifix in hand. It took me many years to wrap my head around this phenomenon as well and for the longest time I thought that all these political active personalities and parties in Russia had simply lost their marbles. But then, upon further analysis, I was forced to conclude that the political camps in America were just as absurd. After all, what does Jesus have to do with free markets and climate change skepticism? Well, the answer is that political apparatchiks “bundled” a bunch of different, unrelated positions into one united political platform. Over time, this political bundle of positions became solidified in the mass consciousness and simply became dogma.
See, the masses are simply not capable of thinking for themselves and creating their own political platforms and so blindly obey the default options that are pre-packaged for them by their respective country’s caste of political policy wonks. This is simply an eternal reality that exists regardless of the political system and it must be understood and accepted if we are to make sense of different political realities in different countries as well as our own. Consider the positions of this humble author: I don’t want to pay taxes, I do want to own a lot of guns, I want an apartment provided to me for free by the government and I DEMAND a state-subsidized wife. That being said, I don’t care about socialized medicine because I don’t trust or respect doctors as a rule. Possession and distribution of carbohydrates should be punishable by death and Liberals should be hunted down like feral dogs in the streets. I don’t vote and I don’t think anyone else should have the right to vote either. I believe that race is a valid category of distinction that divides people on a biological, emotional, intellectual and a spiritual/metaphysical level as well. I’m generally against cars, but if someone were to offer me a BMW free of charge, I might have to revisit that position and figure out a way to conveniently reconcile my new toy and chick-magnet with my previously strongly-held neo-luddite principles. And on it goes. Sadly, there isn’t a political party in any country in the world (to my knowledge) that supports and advocates for my *erm* unique views and positions… although there definitely should be.
Most people are not like this though, and they simply adopt the template that is pre-fabricated for them by political and cultural elites. Nationalists and Liberals working together against Putin is indeed a difficult position to understand and reconcile for someone used to the Western default political settings. But this was a serious political reality in Russia because both of these groups hated the USSR and its legacy, albeit for different reasons.
In the previous article about Ukraine, I made an artistic and editorial decision to start my story with the Yushenko period in Ukrainian politics. I explained that this was, ultimately, an arbitrary decision. I will say the same for what follows: the lore and history of the Russian nationalist movement is dense and rich, but we are going to jump in and try to make sense of “Russian Nationalism 2.0” which came around at the same time as the rebellion in Donbass occurred, to understand the current political situation in Russia better.
Now, there is one name that is most heavily associated with this movement: Egor “Pogrom” Prosvirnin. Pogrom made a name for himself in the heyday of the so-called Russkaya Vesna (Russian Spring) which saw a veritable groundswell of nationalist and patriotic feeling in the Russian population after the annexation of Crimea that has only recently been dwarfed by the veritable hurricane that is raging in Russia now. Pogrom pioneered what came to be known as “Intellectual Nationalism” and adopted hipster aesthetics and promoted a libertine lifestyle in an attempt to rebrand Russian nationalism and make it appealing to fashionable urban Moscovites and Peterburgians. In the beginning, Pogrom was an undeniably net-positive force for nationalism - he created a successful publication, Sputnik and Pogrom and hired a team of talented designers and writers to promote Russian identity. He supported the Donbass rebellion and helped raise money for a BTR (armored carrier) that was sent to the militias in the east. Most importantly, Pogrom promoted a pro-White Army type cargo-cult and argued that this was what was needed in Russia now - a liberal, democratic, progressive movement of nationalists ready to go to war against the “Reds” (Putin and friends). Pogrom went on to declare that Putin had betrayed the Donbass and that he was hell-bent on flooding Russia with non-Whites from the central asian republics. He accepted invitations from every single Liberal opposition media project, including the infamous “Echo Moscow” that was closed recently and had a now-infamous interview with Aleksei Vanediktov (Jewish), the editor-in-chief where they tried to find common ground on their mutual hatred of Putin. Pogrom did not present himself well on any of these interviews and came off as simultaneously petulant and excessively conciliatory. The Liberals interviewing him nodded their heads along while he showered abuse on Putin and the government, but bared their teeth when he began forcing his favorite talking point about how Russians and nationalists in particular were the most oppressed group in the USSR. Remember: Liberals hold to the position that the USSR was defined by Russians oppressing minorities and Liberals.
This is actually quite similar to the Ukrainian position vis-a-vis the USSR - that the Russians were deliberately genociding them with famine. Bafflingly, Ukrainian ethno-nationalists seem to conveniently not be unable to understand that the Bolsheviks were not ethnic Russians. The same holds true for the Baltic countries as well, like Latvia especially, which conveniently blames the Red Terror on the Russians while pretending to not remember that the Latvian Rifles were literally the reason that Lenin and Trotsky were able to seize power in St. Petersburg and that the Latvians were significantly over-represented in the Bolshevik death squads in the early days. Speaking of Trotsky, his doppelgänger (and no-doubt distant cousin) Egils Levits rules over the “nationalistic” Latvians today and provides a safe harbor for fleeing Russian Liberal dissidents and their media in Riga. Actually, this bizarre and convenient view of history is shared by the Georgians, Armenians, Kazakhs and pretty much every one of the former FSU or former Warsaw bloc countries. Despite the fact that Egor Pogrom was objectively correct that the Russians were the ones getting genocided and repressed most heavily, many of the groups that clearly benefitted from the USSR and lived off the stolen redistributed wealth of the Russian people claim that they were being repressed by Russians and that the USSR was just a continuation of the Russian Empire. This also leads many patriotic people in Russia to reflexively, knee-jerk defend the USSR to this day.
As you may have deduced already, historical truth is irrelevant here and we have a situation where the Russians are blamed for the crimes of the USSR by non-Russians despite the fact that the Bolsheviks were virulently Jewish and anti-Russian. And because they feel attacked, many Russian patriots defend the USSR because their enemies attack it and associate them with it. This is similar to what many patriotic men in the West do where they start calling themselves “Nazis” simply because their opponents label them as such - the rationale behind this behavior being that if their enemies hate the Nazis, then the Nazis may have been onto something. The historical fact that the Nazis spread anti-White propaganda accusing the Americans of mistreating their blacks is irrelevant here. Signaling and counter-signaling and counter-counter-signaling rule the day.
Long story short, Pogrom eventually began to suffer from the same libertine lifestyle that he promoted to own the “sovoks” (derogative term for older, socially-conservative, pro-Soviet population) and spiraled into drug abuse, obesity and a turbulent love affair after his site was shut down by Roskomnadzor for its vehement anti-government positions. Around this same time, many Russian nationalists traveled to Ukraine to join the “right-wing” Galician militias and to fight against Putin. Most of them eventually ended up disappointed and dead when they realized that the Western Ukrainians didn’t care about their anti-Putin views and hated them for being Russians regardless. This was about the time that Putin and his government began cracking down on “nationalism” in Russia with the infamous 282 hate crime law. Many “nationalists” were indeed put into jail - that is indisputable. What is up for debate is what kind of nationalism they were advocating for. Could an American support the invasion of Texas by the Mexican military, join up with a narco-cartel and still be considered an American Nationalist? Thankfully, he could not. But in Russia? Well, the Russians are simply a more open-minded and tolerant people, I suppose.
Regardless, no nationalist has been jailed under 282 for the last 4-5 years. It is used almost exclusively against Muslim fundamentalists. Furthermore, the law has been dramatically reworked and scaled back. You can promote Russian ethnic identity and question the official Holocaust narrative and not get any grief for it from the government (civil society is another matter though). What you can’t do is promote anti-Russianism or Nazism in any way shape or form. Them’s the rules and the rules are quite clear.
Egor’s career and his brand of Russian Nationalism 2.0 died a slow death once the Donbass rebellion fizzled out and Sergei Lavrov forced through his Minsk Deal “solution” to the situation, which locked the east in stalemate for eight years. Egor’s real death, in contrast, was sudden and quick and occurred right before New Year’s Eve 2022 when he jumped naked off the balcony of his balcony in central Moscow after a fight with his on-and-off wife Marina Prosvirnin. It is unclear whether there were drugs in his body at the time of his death, but the police found drugs all over his apartment when they searched the residence. Some nationalists were quick to say that Pogrom had been assassinated by Putin, but Pogrom had developed quite a reputation for being emotionally unstable and had never hidden his recreational drug use (or his woman problems), going so far as to livestream his drug sessions and ran a server where topics like this were part of the daily conversation.
Fortunately, Russian nationalism had already been moving away from Pogromism and the “Nats-Lib” position for several years before his death. His suicide ended up serving as a political bookmark to an era. This change in the nationalist position was also reinforced by the death of Konstantin Krylov in 2020. Krylov was the man who had first articulated the “Nats-Lib” position, worked to purge the nationalists of more traditional members and thinkers and the man who most vocally called for an alliance with liberal forces in the country and for nationalists to embrace democratic principles and values. His logic was that nationalists could do very well in an electoral system if they adopted more centrist positions. If the recent sweeping changes occurring in Russian society at the moment are any indication, then Krylov’s ideas went to the grave with him - Putin is decidedly steering Russia away from Liberalism and Democratic values with the support of at least 80% of the population (and growing). Putin’s positions and actions now have effectively neutralized any potential opposition movement from the “right” because he has, almost overnight, delivered on all the demands of the patriotic camp and even outdone himself on some of them. Consider: would there be a place for the Dissident Right in the West if Trump had drained the swamp, built the wall and ended the wars? What more would there be left for the Dissident Right to advocate and proselytize for? Paradoxically, Nationalism has been delivered a political death blow by Putin because Putin has adopted Russian Nationalism and merged the power of the army and the office of the president with it. The way I see it, while it may not be time to pop the Soviet champagne just yet, this is yet another reason to be hopeful for the future.
We’ll have to leave it there for now.