With another chain of protests and a new political party under his belt, Limonov and the NazBol movement regularly make the headlines as crypto-fascist insurgents or warriors for democracy. Yet, for all the allegations of right-wing extremism and fascist tendencies among NazBols, the Other Russia coalition has them work together closely with liberals, civil society activists, social democrats, and communist factions. In 2011, even after the Central Electoral Commission refused to register them for the ballot, the Other Russia did not give in; the struggle had to be continued outside of official elections. 

Once the 2011 Duma polls were in, with Putin’s party United Russia maintaining a slim majority, widespread allegations of fraud circled in Russian and international media – voters were rumoured to be bused between districts by United Russia so they could vote multiple times. Indeed, despite an ongoing economic crisis, and protests fresh in memory, somehow the establishment managed to gain a majority votes in nearly all municipalities. The opposition would not stand for these results.

Protest gathering at Bolotnaya square in Moscow, 10 December 2011

Bolotnaya, a Russian Colour Revolution?

From December 2011 to mid-2013, Russia would again see series of protests that would shake the nation’s political sphere. Started on the initiative of the social-liberal Yabloko (lit. apple) party, thousands gathered on Bolotnaya square against election fraud on 10 December 2011. Quickly, they were joined by ethno-nationalist groups, and many activists from the Other Russia party, gathering over 100,000 people in central Moscow. Spearheaded by the Yabloko and the Other Russia, the protestors demanded new legislative elections under strict supervision, the release of political prisoners (among whom many NazBols accused of terrorism), and the dismissal of the head of the Central Electoral Commission.

The Russian government ignored these protests, and larger opposition leaders denounced them as rioters and ultraliberals trying to stage a repeat of the Ukraine Orange Revolution in Moscow. Most major cities in Russia would again see massive protests, particularly in Moscow and St Petersburg. As Bolotnaya square again became the main site of anti-government protests, gathering some 100,000 every quarter until 2013, Russian society almost split in two over the turmoil. Even former NazBols turned on Limonov and denounced their once comrades: Dugin, who left the NBP in ‘98 led an anti-Orange rally, gathering 50,000 opposed to perceived attempts at regime change in Russia, citing USAID donations to dissident media and civil society organisations as an effort by the US to destabilise Russia. Moscow became an ideological battlefield, with pro- and anti-government protests taking place on opposite sides of the city centre, separated by the Moskva river and police cordons.

Protest rally in Moscow, May 2012

Despite the protests, Medvedev and Putin kept steadfast, increasing police crackdowns, and violently dispersed another rally at Bolotnaya in May 2012, scattering the opposition groups. The Other Russia coalition, together with other small opposition parties, organised the Opposition Coordination Committee (OCC) to unify dissent in the country, with Alexei Navalny being elected as its chairman. While protests against police brutality and the government went on, the OCC did not adopt any resolutions, and rallies gradually became smaller. Opposition leaders, Navalny and Nemtsov in particular, were arrested on allegations of embezzlement. Effectively, the protest movement did not achieve any of its strategic goals.

“After Euromaidan, Ukraine entered the camp of the enemy, blocking the very prospect of our imperial revival. Russia was trapped.” – Aleksandr Dugin

Splitting the Party – Crimea River over Ukraine

2014 would become the final turning point of the Other Russia party that would define its future. Hitherto, the movement and its party were an unstable coalition of liberals, nationalists, leftists, and NazBols, who were somehow able to coordinate mass protests over the past years. The Bolotnaya or ‘Snow’ Revolution, had given the Other Russia a baptism by fire, creating a group of seasoned dissidents but with few resources left. But the contradictions between the parties making up the Other Russia would again become apparent with the advent of Euromaidan in Ukraine. The liberals in the coalition, led by famous chess grandmaster Kasparov looked with hope on the changes in Kyiv, but Limonov and the NazBols were fearful of the potential ramifications for the Russian minority in Ukraine. Limonov ultimately changed his course and kicked out the liberals from the coalition as he saw the aftermath of the new regime in Kyiv, it had not brought democracy, but instead unleashed a series of attacks on Russophones in Ukraine. In early 2014, Ukrainian nationalists attacked a bus of Crimean anti-Maidan protesters, brutally beating the occupants and setting their vehicle ablaze. And on 2 May 2014, a Ukrainian far-right group attacked another anti-Maidan protest set in the Trade Union House in Odessa, setting fire to the building and burning the 46 occupants alive.

Limonov and the NazBols were at a difficult crossroads, forced to choose between their commitments for democracy (and against Putin), and their commitment to Russian people. To Limonov, the choice was clear, this is where the line had to drawn, Russian people abroad needed the protection of the NazBols, liberals be damned! When the People’s Republics were proclaimed in Donetsk and Luhansk, the Other Russia, now run fully by NazBols, organised aid for the separatists, setting up an international volunteer brigade to provide auxiliary troops in Donbass.   

While Limonov made a tun of reconciliation with Putin, praising his actions in Crimea and Syria, he remained critical of the lack of action in Donbass, as it “left an open wound” like the Americans accomplished in Korea, Libya, and Iraq. Equally, he remained principled in his opposition, always calling for the release of political prisoners in Russia and calling for fair elections, even if he supported Putin’s foreign policy. 

“In the intra-Ukrainian confrontation, we clearly see two sides. On the one, the Westerners-Banderovites [Western Ukrainians; followers of Stepan Bandera, notorious Ukrainian nationalist, war criminal, Holocaust perpetrator], general Vlasov [leader of the Russian Nazi collaborators], the Waffen-SS, and Victoria Nuland of the US State Department. On the other side, we have Southern and Eastern Ukraine who traditionally cling to Russia, Sevastopol’, the city of Russian glory, and war heroes of the underground Oleg Koshevoy and Sergey Tyulenin [antifascist partisans, both Heroes of the Soviet Union]. In this situation we unequivocally take the side of our own – Russians; and not of the strangers, “Germans”. Everything else is from the evil one,

Russia is everything, the rest – nothing!

– The Other Russia Party Declaration on the Situation in Ukraine, 21 February 2014

Translated: The Other Russia Party of E. V. Limonov

No Limonov, but the Lemons still remain

From 2018, Limonov, already aged 75, stepped down as party leader of the Other Russia, and 2 years later, following a long battle with cancer and post-surgical complications, he passed away on 17 March 2020. His party, now bearing his name in his honour, remains steadfast. The Other Russia Party of E. Limonov saw a surge in popularity at the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian war, and serves as one of the larger platforms of opposition outside the Duma. Today. their party blog is filled with death reports and critical articles on the extension of the draft, interspersed with hypernationalist NazBol rhetoric. True to Limonov, they oppose Putin’s government on the lack of progress in the war, and are firmly against POW exchanges, and negotiations. Currently, they believe that if the situation on the frontlines does not improve, Russia may exhaust itself in a protracted war and eventually collapse under the weight of the NATO proxy war. The issues with expanding mobilisation and lacking logistics for the army hearkens them back to scenes from the Russo-Japanese and Great War, warning that if this situation persists, Russia may not be able to save itself. Notwithstanding the efforts by their active members, the Other Russia Party is still in a somewhat precarious position, its most loyal members dying on the battlefront, or still imprisoned. They are allowed to operate insofar as their activities promote the war effort, by organising humanitarian aid and promoting patriotism.

Neo-Eurasianism and Traditionalism

You may be wondering how relevant the NazBols are today; after all, most key figures of the National Bolshevik movement are either dead or in prison, and the Other Russia party still holds little power in Russian politics. Aleksandr Dugin, however, former member of the NBP (and still lukewarm toward National Bolshevism), holds the ears of many influential politicians in Russia and Belarus’.  As a controversial, but widely known academic and political activist, Dugin occupies an interesting space in the greater Russian political sphere.

Aside from his work in the National Bolshevik Party, Dugin wrote the Foundations of Geopolitics in 1997, allegedly a foundational text for the Russian General Staff, and foreign policy elite. In this text, he differentiates ‘Atlantic’ and ‘ Eurasian’ societies; coastal geography predisposed Atlantic societies towards cosmopolitanism and liberalism, whereas landlocked societies oriented towards preservation and social cohesion. On this basis, he calls for a  restructuring of power relations in Eurasia and for the resurgence of Russia as a superpower, to be secured through alliances with Europe and annexation of former territories. Specifically, Germany together with France should rule over continental Europe, the UK should be isolated from Europe (functionally being a ‘US puppet state’), Poland will have special status as a border state, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus’ and Moldova will become part of Russia (Estonia will exist independently under the German sphere of influence). The Orthodox countries, Romania, (North) Macedonia, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, will reunite under Moscow, the Third Rome. Ukraine has “no geopolitical meaning as a state, no particular cultural import or universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness, its certain territorial ambitions represents an enormous danger for all of Eurasia and, without resolving the Ukrainian problem, it is in general senseless to speak about continental politics”. Ukraine should hence not exist as an independent state, unless it acts as a cordon sanitaire (a pro-Russian buffer state); since this is unacceptable to the West, annexation is the only option.

Asia is the staging ground for continuing the anti-Atlanticist strategy; Russian and Islamic peoples should ally based on the traditional character of their civilisations. The Turkic peoples, with their origins in the Russian heartland, should be governed by the Russian state and have protected minority status. As such, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Mongolia, and Xinjiang (as administrative part of Kazakhstan) belong under the auspices of Russia. Iran and Armenia, according to Dugin, both Aryan nations (together with the Kurds), will be key allies, and will help keep the Arabs and Turkey in check. China present an existential ideological danger to Russia, and should be contained and “dismantled to the highest possible degree”; Russian should annex Xinjiang, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia/Manchuria (reviving Zheltorossiya or Yellow Russia) and, in exchange, help China expand into South-East Asia and Oceania as recompense. Finally, the United States represents the greatest threat as the current opposing power of Russia; Russia should “introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilising internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics”.

This text, along with his further work, is the cornerstone of the International Eurasian Movement that Dugin founded. He describes his own ideas as a ‘fourth political theory’, eschewing fascism, communism, and liberalism, and rejecting race, class, or individual subjects of politics. Instead, the fourth political theory’s main subject is Dasein (tr. ‘Being’; from Heidegger’s existentialism), conscious existence, the human experience. To decrypt and simplify this philosophical notion, Dasein refers to embracing an authentic Self (both individual and collective), taking charge of one’s destiny, meaning and lifespan. Indeed, to some international observers, particularly those who have studied Eurasianism and  exceptionalist ideologies in other countries, Dugin’s Eurasianism can be boiled down to a Russian version of Manifest Destiny.

Aleksandr Dugin at a Eurasian Movement Congress
Aleksandr Dugin at a Eurasian Movement Congress

“In principle, Eurasia and our space, the heartland Russia, remain the staging area of a new anti-bourgeois, anti-American revolution … The new Eurasian empire will be constructed on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us. This common civilisational impulse will be the basis of a political and strategic union.” 

– Aleksandr Dugin

Rasputin Revived?

Dugin’s influence on Russian politics is a complicated matter; he has mostly been a peripheral figure, often sensationalised and ridiculed for his political takes – in an interview, for instance, Dugin called for the banning of the internet, as it “gave nobody any good”. On another occasion, he lectured: “Chemistry and Physics are demonic sciences. All Orthodox Russians should support the President in the struggle between good and evil, following the example of Iran and the DPRK.”. Nevertheless, even though Dugin has no official ties to the Russian government, or any organisations other than the Eurasian and NazBol movements, he solidly toes Putin’s party line, while always calling for more action in line with his theory. Even before 2014, Dugin has unapologetically supported intervention in Ukraine, and has continued to write strong critiques of all other opposition parties, including the National Bolshevik Party, which he thought had abandoned their ideology by taking part in the Bolotnaya protests. Correlation however, does not mean causation.

Recently, Dugin has appeared more and more in public life; after the assassination of his daughter, Darya Dugina, an attack that was clearly meant for him, there have been rumours that Dugin has grown closer ties with Putin and the political elite. In October 2022, Aleksandr Dugin was also invited by Belarussian President Lukashenko, allegedly they had a 2-hour conversation sharing mutual praise. Notwithstanding these recent trends, opinion on Dugin’s precise role in Russian society is dubious; domestically, he and his views were seen primarily as a meme, albeit to some as the epitome of being based and redpilled. These recent developments, however, have drawn the attention of journalists and independent political figures, who are concerned with the implication of Eurasianism and Traditionalism (the larger stream of nouvelle droite political thought) becoming reified as an ideology. Internationally, there are equally two sides, with experts split between Dugin being either a grey cardinal of ‘Putinism’ – a Neo-Eurasian Rasputin, or that Dugin simply identified astutely at an early stage the post-Soviet zeitgeist, identifying the forces of disorientation, disillusionment, and ressentiment that fueled Putin’s subsequent actions.

“Obama is Hitler. This is a new global neonazi hegemony, which, if necessary, resorts to using punitive detachments that have already dug in on our lines. We quickly approached the second point of probable entry into the war after Crimea. Again, we cannot exclude a potential escalation that could set off a Third Wold War.

America wants to wage war with Russia, not with its own hands, but with the hands of Ukrainians. The United States led the way to this war by promising to turn a blind eye to civilian casualties in Ukraine, which do not exceed 10,000 people, but in fact, they demanded these victims. The US orchestrated a coup d’état on Maidan for this war. The US elevated neonazis-Russophobes to power for this war.”

– Aleksandr Dugin

By Konstantijn Rondhuis

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