For the far right, the violence has been a way to attract attention and claim it enjoys the support of the masses. In other words, it is no longer simply a mood but a political reality that both the authorities and civil society have to reckon with.
The Movement Against Illegal Immigration and Eduard Limonov's National
Bolshevik Party are two organizations that positioned themselves as the
political wing of the rioters. I don't just mean activists from these
groups, who arrived very quickly and were heavily involved in
subsequent events, but also about the role these organizations
undoubtedly played in the ethnic violence. It was these groups that
helped turn a vague sentiment into a clear program, to form a clear
package of racist demands, and to spread the experience of Kondopoga to
Until now, the two groups had not been fond of each other and in Moscow
had been open rivals. In addition, the NBP has recently been trying to
acquire some respectability. Without reneging on its original ideals,
clearly set out in Limonov's works, the group and its leader currently
prefer not to discuss their documents elucidating the benefits of a
fascist dictatorship for Russia. As for the Movement Against Illegal
Immigration, it is not so much a political organization as a
broad-based front that is home to a number of viewpoints -- from
followers of Joseph Goebbels to moderate supporters of Benito
Mussolini-style humanitarian fascism.
Yet during the events in Kondopoga, all the fine points of ideological
discord and competition were discarded. What they had in common was
much more important. Both organizations showed they were capable of
The liberal press both loves and pities the young people of the NBP,
who are periodically subject to sanctions by the authorities. Few such
political organizations have been honored with so many sympathetic
articles in publications that claim to be defending the principles of
On the other hand, liberals regard the Movement Against Illegal
Immigration at best with distaste, and its supporters are called
fascists. But Gennady Zyuganov's Communist Party not only collaborates
openly with the movement, but is developing common ideological
positions. Pyotr Miloserdov, one of the organizers of a right-wing
march in 2005, is an ideologist for both organizations. Zyuganov
himself has spoken up in support of Miloserdov: "Here we have a young
Communist who is trying to come to grips with class and race relations
and is being denounced as a nationalist. But the party has good
experience of youth work based on the Russian question. ... Experience
shows that national feeling and class consciousness go well together."
The National Bolsheviks are also popular in the Communist Party.
Although even in Putin's Russia the Communists and the liberals cannot
overcome their mutual distrust, they are united by sympathy for the
NBP. The NBP is essentially becoming a bridge between the two ends of
the official opposition spectrum. And it is the NBP that is the most
active proponent of the idea of unifying all of the opposition.
Based on the reaction in the press, there is a good chance that
unification will take place. The ethnic violence in Kondopoga was
viewed with sympathy and understanding across the political spectrum.
Novaya Gazeta deputy editor Akaram Murtazayev noted that the subsequent
discussion was even more catastrophic than the violence itself. Of
course, ideological differences still exist, but dislike of darker
skinned people is even stronger, which helps to overcome the barriers
dividing people. Zyuganov-style Communists immediately found a class
base for the violence, while the liberals, after deliberating a while,
agreed that there is a "cultural incompatibility" that can only be
overcome using radical means. If Caucasus natives do not want to become
the same as ethnic Russians, then they will have to be punished
according to the laws of the street.
But since, as the Jews have shown -- even after forgetting their native
language, rejecting their own religion and swaddling themselves in
Russian patriotism -- "outsiders" are still unable to change the color
of their eyes, the shape of their nose, or to straighten their curly
hair. Dealing with them will take a long time.
So the aim is clear, the task is obvious - to work, Parteigenossen!
Boris Kagarlitsky is director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.
The Moscow Times, Thursday, September 21, 2006. Issue 3502. Page 9.