Nationalists Divided

In this Jan. 28th article, Ulyana Ivanova, journalist from the magazine National Accent, surveys the diverging views of a range of nationalist figures within Russia over the latest color revolution in Ukraine. Translated by Evgeniy Filimonov.

Nationalists of all stripes residing on the territory of Russia are divided in regards to the protest in Ukraine. Some took the Ukraine uprising as an excellent example of civil engagement and self-organization. Others have labeled the protestors as “Banderite remnants” and enemies of the Russians. Still others have tried to analyze the events on the Maidan as bystanders, supporting neither side.

One of the reasons for this interest in the events on the Maidan is the active involvement of Ukrainian nationalists. Coincident with the popular opinion of the Russian media, it is precisely the ultra-right and fanatics that have become the main driving force of the protest.

The fact is that nobody has remained indifferent to the Ukrainian “revolution.” This has become one of the main topics on nationalist blogs and internet resources. Russian, Tatar, Bashkir, and other nationalists have taken the Ukrainian unrest very personally and found it extremely important to speak about.

The leader of the ‘Russians’ movement Dmitry Dyomushkin has stated that nationalists are the sole force capable of “breaking the regimes in Russia and Ukraine”. “Those who today condemn the Ukrainian nationalists and the unrest in Ukraine from all television stations of the regime, and those who approve of such in the comments of all social networks, remember: the absolute same technology will be working against you”, he wrote in his blog. Dyomushkin reproached Russian nationalists in that some of them condemn any acts of protest while simultaneously “relentlessly denouncing the establishment”, “speaking about the extinction of Russians”. “There will be no changes for the better for you if you cannot grasp this. No chance, not for you, nor for your children”, he concluded.

The Russian nationalist and head editor of the portal Russian Surveyor, Egor Kholmogorov, has emphasized in all of his posts that he is concerned exclusively with the interests of the Russian population of Ukraine. In the words of Kholmogorov, he sympathizes with the Ukrainian people in their attempting to overthrow the “rogue regime of Yanukovych”. However, at the same time he comes out in favor of detaching Russian Ukrainians into a separate state “South Ossetian style.” “The most optimistic scenario for Russia and the Russians is the overthrow of Yanukovych in Kiev, the cessation of the central authority there, after which the deployment of Russian troops (available on request) in New Russia, followed by absorption. In this way, ‘Ukraine’ may leave for wherever it wants, their path is up to them”, stated Kholmogorov.

Konstantin Krylov, in turn, expressed his confidence that Ukraine will remain united and indivisible. No apparent sympathy or antipathy was expressed towards any side. However, according to the opinion of the nationalist, Ukrainians who have come out to the Maidan are choosing between Russia and the EU as one chooses between a trash heap and working at a small shop. In Krylov’s words, the protestors in Kiev perceive Russia as a “rotten place;” thus they aspire to enter the European Union, despite the fact that it threatens to collapse the nation’s economy.

Krylov’s ally in the National Democratic Party, Vladimir Tor shares no enthusiasm for the mass unrest in the neighboring state. In his posts on Livejournal, he denounces the “Westerners”:

So this means that the Maidanites are seriously speaking about building a ‘united Ukrainian nation’? Well, well…unlikely. But a good civil war, that’s easy.

Nationalists of the establishment, such as Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Government Dmitry Rogozin, have come out against Maidan. Rogozin called the protestors ‘Ukro-Maidanites.’

Meanwhile, Tatar nationalists from the ‘Azatlyk‘ movement strongly supported the unrest in Ukraine. In December in Kazan, they held a picket of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, “who are once again fighting for their independence and freedom”. The picketers stated that their actions “will protest against heightened attempts to infringe on freedom of thought and speech in Russia itself”. They carried signs reading “Free Ukraine, the Tatars support you!” and, “We also want to live in Europe!”

The Bashkir nationalist youth movement ‘Kuk Bure‘ has released no official statements in regards to Ukraine. However, judging by the messages on the organization’s group on ‘Vkontakte’, its activists are clearly impressed by the protestors. Some of them have even compared the rioters to the participants of the Bashkir national liberation movement ‘Zaki Validi.’

Russian Cossacks, some of whom consider themselves a separate nation, also did not remain on the sidelines. The Supreme Ataman of the Union of Cossack Troops of Russia and Abroad, Viktor Vodolatsky has stated that to resolve the situation in Kiev, 760,000 Cossacks are ready to be deployed. The Cossacks aim to fight the “Pro-Western forces” and “Fascist elements”.

Thus, the Ukrainian “revolution” has divided not only the Ukrainians themselves into two camps, but also the citizens of Russia.  And judging from numerous discussions on the internet, Russians are trying to carry over the events of their neighboring country to Russian reality. Fortunately, only in words for now.