Russia: Nationalism

Global Voices Online
Thursday, February 8, 2007

Fascists, nationalists, patriots, extremists: in Russia today, these labels seem to be used somewhat indiscriminately.

Chess champion and opposition politician Garry Kasparov calls Vladimir Putin's regime fascist - and the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi reciprocates by accusing the British ambassador in Russia of backing fascists (aka the opposition). The Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) allies itself with other self-described "nationalist patriots" to hold the so-called Russian March - and the National Bolshevik Party (NBP) declares (RUS) that hardly anyone has the "moral right" to be there, because it is their party, the NBP, that is Russia's one and only legitimate, "healthy," nationalist party. According to the self-described "anti-fascist" Nashi, however, both the NBP and the DPNI are fascists and extremists, along with Kasparov and Russia's other liberal politicians. A young man hits Kasparov on the head with a chessboard - and fingers are pointed in two different directions: Nashi suggest that the culprit could've been a member of the National Bolshevik Party, while the opposition claims that he must've been a nashist (a somewhat derogatory word that derives from both Nashi and Nazi, natsist in Russian).

In short, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, sort of.

Journalist Aleksandr Plushev (LJ user plushev) has recently raised the issue of nationalism (RUS) at his Radio Echo of Moscow work blog:

Nationalism on the march

During our [...] daytime show, it turned out that 40 percent of our audience consider themselves nationalists.

Is anyone bothered by it?

Is this what our society is like? Is the audience of our radion station like this: the conditional nationalists, just like the liberals, have no place to go? Or is this figure distorted because not everyone has admitted to be a nationalist?

This entry has inspired a very lengthy discussion, parts of which are translated below.

First, however, this laconic observation left halfway through the discussion thread:

Merkator: I'm bothered by something else. IMHO, everyone has his own understanding of what nationalism is. Hence the 40 percent.

Now, on to the discussion itself:

Mironova Nataliya Alekseevna: People feel miserable. Oppressed. I'm not aware of the mechanisms that make people feel ETHNICALLY suppressed. There are many myths here. The oil rent, for example. Everyone could have gotten his share, but Jews have grabbed it all. Nonsense? Nonsense. But try explaining to such a suppressed person that if you divide all the oil money equally for everyone, each person will get a hundred dollars maximum, not $125,000, as the demagogues claim. Even if you take away from all the evil Jews, no more than $5 will be added.

I cannot accept the call for everyone to consider and call ourselves Russian - then, they say, everything will work out fine. I'm a person of the Russian culture, the Russian language is my trade, but I am Jewish, and the Holocaust for me isn't an empty sound. Why should I reject my ethnicity? I would consider that treason. Among those 6 million, many of my relatives have fallen. But as soon as the conversation turns to the Russian nationalists - even those who are moderate and "velvet" - it turns out right away that we have grabbed all they had. This is hopeless. I don't know what has to happen for people to change their minds. For people to stop hating Caucasus natives, Jews, Chinese, Americans...


Mysh: "Why should I reject my ethnicity?" Of course, you shouldn't. No one should. But for some reason now everything is being done to label Nazi those who do not reject their Russianness.

Mironova Nataliya Alekseevna: Could you be more specific? Who asked you to reject your Russianness? In what form? [...] If to be Russian means walking like a goose, throwing your arm up [like a Nazi], then maybe it's better not to be Russian. [...] Try being Russian without hurting anyone: kind, open-minded, generous, seeking truth and justice. It's a lot more difficult but a lot more interesting as well than getting together for the "Russian Marches" and being angry and blaming the migrants for all your problems.

Vr: Nataliya Alekseevna, you provoke rude responses with posts like this. Is there nothing but Russian nationalism? In Plushev's show, there was a question about nationalism in general, regardless of what nationality it was about, but you were led by the familiar reflex: nationalism=Nazism=Russian=beat the kikes, save Russia! Why?


Mironova Nataliya Alekseevna: I'm not provoking anything. We live in Russia, where 80 percent of the population are Russians. The show was about the "Russian project" of the [pro-Kremlin United Russia party]. Forty percent of respondents called themselves nationalists during the show. Which nationalists? You decide. People who were calling in were saying that nationalism is a decent and harmless thing. All it takes is to get rid of the [term rossiyane] - everyone should be calling themselves [ethnic] Russians and step under their banners, and then everything will be good, and they won't hurt anyone. I don't want to join their rank. I don't want to call myself [ethnic] Russian. I'm a Jew. I'm not proud of it, it's just the way it is, a fact, but it's important to me. I understand very well a [Tatar] who wouldn't want to call himself Russian. And a [Mordvin], and an [Evenk]. Respect us the way we are. [...]

Igor: IMHO, patriotism is the love for one's motherland, and nationalism is the love for one's nation. Do you love your people? If yes, then you are a Jewish nationalist. You don't want to be Russian. Don't. But I want to and don't understand why in my own country I have to be a rossiyanin, and not Russian. [...]


Gena: [...] This is old news, Aleksandr. For our people, racial and ethnic prejudice is part of the worldview, and of course Russia means nothing but very good, but they, all those who are non-Russian, they represent everything that's bad. It's a generalization, of course, and there are many people who have an adequate world outlook, but a considerable segment of the population is infected with this virus of dislike of non-Russians, and to them getting Russia off her knees means that at the same time everyone around has to knee before Russia. [...]

Leo: Sasha, are you sure that those who voted had read the Wikipedia definition [of nationalism]? I'm not sure. Have you explained to them that "nationalism" isn't the same as love for your nation?

Igor: Suggest another term, to replace nationalism.

Aleksandr Plushev: Natiophilia.

Igor: You can be a Francophile without being French. Can one become a French nationalist if one is, say, a [Chukcha]? I don't think so.

Aleksandr Plushev: Then this assertion doesn't work: that nationality is a matter of how one feels about himself and that anyone who grew up in the Russian culture ans speaks Russian is Russian.

Roma Sh.: Dear Nataliya Alekseevna! You've painted an image of a "Russian nationalist" and then took it apart with your arguments. But here goes. I don't feel miserable or oppressed. Yet, I'm a normal Russian nationalist. I consider all Russian citizens Russian by their citizenship, but different in descent. I can't allow myself to say a single negative word about Jews. Jews also did and do create the great Russian culture. By the way, my Jewish friend, a vet doctor, recently returned from Israel and said that he hadn't seen more ardent nationalists than the Jews. And they consider him Russian, not Jewish.

Dmitry: I've never heard anyone at [Echo of Moscow] criticise the nationalism of the State of Israel (their ban on marriages with non-Jews, etc.)

Evgeniy: To Roma Sh.: What do you consider a Russian nationalist? How different is he from just a Russian (I mean a Russian citizen here)? Only please don't write about [Matryoshka dolls], birch trees, etc. In general, what's a nationalist?

Mironova Nataliya Alekseevna: [I want to know the answer, too.] Someone who isn't miserable or oppressed doesn't need to consider himself a nationalist. And a nationalist's primary occupation is to look for and gather those who have been hurt.

Roma Sh.: [...] Nehru and Ghandi gathered those Indians who felt hurt and created the Indian NATIONAL Congress, and then the state of India itself. It was the sense of national injustice of the young American nation that had been oppressed by the English, which created the USA. The national hurt of the Jews from all over the world has gathered them at the Sinai. And only the Russian nationalism that helps Russians to become a nation is bothering everyone, for some reason. [...]

Igor: [Russian nationalists are no different from other Russians if these citizens] consider Russia their Motherland.

Yevgeniy: Then there are 150 million nationalists in Russia, not 40 percent. And don't tell me that liberals don't consider Russia their motherland, it's silly. Everyone has their own way of seeing ways of development for their motherland and everyone wishes only the best for her.


muta: [...] Over 80 percent of those who live in this country are Russian. If Russia is not for Russians, then it's definitely not for the [Dagestanis] or [Azeris]. And to say that both I and a Dagestani live in the same country, according to the same laws, isn't correct. That's is, it's correct but only on paper. In reality, I was cruelly beaten in [Dagestan's capital Makhachkala] for just [staring] at an attractive girl. And the cops only said that this is how it works there. So, when I come to the Republic of Dagestan I have to bother about their customs and traditions, and when a Dagestani comes here, he skillfully slaloms around using his own traditions and ideas [...]. But we do have traditions, too: for example we won't beat you up if you're just looking at a girl. No one would harass you (well, except for the totally screwed up ones) for kissing your wife in the street. The customs of the mountains should stay in the mountains, but the brotherly peoples of the Caucasus refuse to understand it. And the regime says I'm a fascist. Where is the truth?

Gataullin Rail Ravilevich: And were you looking at her? In what way? [...]

Marina: [...] This question reminded me of one story: we were talking with one guy, a Kurd from Iran who has assimilated successfully in Europe. He had it all, including a European girlfriend. And suddenly it turns out that it hurts him a lot that his girlfriend wears nothing but a swimming suit at the beach: why does she have to bare her legs and arms?! No comment.

muta: I don't understand why people who have escaped from their own countries drag their customs to the places that have agreed to give them refuge. Yours is a typical example. The Australian Muslims, as far as I remember, went even further - they walked around the beach and beat everyone who was there. [...] And they were the first ones to scream about Australian fascism when the people stood up and hit them back. I've noticed a long time ago that the indigenous population is always to blame for all the problems of the migrants. The French are blamed by the Africans, the Belgians by the Chechens, and [the Russian] are always blamed by everyone. Please understand that this cannot continue forever. And it won't. If the regime doesn't want (or is scared) to get involved in these issues, then the population itself will deal with it. The first ones like the DPNI are getting more and more active with each year and their ranks grow [...].


Gataullin Rail Ravilevich: What does migration have to do with it?????? Dagestanis are the citizens of Russia! And so are Chechens! Are you for the purely Russian state? Then you should address [Vladimir Putin] - ask him to let the ethnic republics and autonomies split from the Russian Federation. [...]


Mikhail: As for the "Russia for the Russians" slogan - it's too hyped by the journalists. It's becoming fashionable to call Russia a fascist state, but only those who are not smart enough are doing it. Fascism is considered to be the regime's project, etc., but I don't see a serious problem here... I just feel sorry for the murdered and maimed foreign students.

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