Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Kremlin's neo-Nazi ways

Something that the Russian regime often uses to legitimize its rule is railing against "extremism." Often, the extremists are Islamic terrorists (which the Kremlin often creates). But sometimes, the extremists are neo-Nazi fascists. The ideology is supposedly on the rise in Russia, and Russian cities are indeed dangerous places for "blacks" (a generic Russian catch-all for Caucasians, Central Asians, sub-Saharan Africans, and whatever other unfortunate non-European looking person happens to find themselves in non-Siberian Russia). But who really benefits from this? The Kremlin seems to think it does, because according to the Huffington Post, it supported several of these skinhead groups:

Human Rights researchers in Moscow have published documents showing "Nazi skinheads are being encouraged, organized, and used by Russia's ruling circles in their own interests." And Isvestiya reported that "Nazi skinheads from an openly fascist organization, the NNP (People's National Party), were being trained at the Moscow OMON special-purpose police detachment facilities and that they were being trained specifically by OMON coaches." Several years ago Russian historian Vladimir Ilyushenko asserted that "some parties view skinheads as their reserve. The process of encouraging fascist sentiments in Russia is steered by government officials."

Showing that the alternative in Russia to Putinism is fascism is a good way of making Putinism look good. And keeping fascism alive is near and dear to the Kremlin's heart, because one of the big founding myths of the Soviet Union was its fight against the Nazis. As little sense as the fascism/communism dichotomy makes, it was very important to the USSR during World War II and in the years afterwards. While obviously Russia's terrorist machinations are nearest to the siloviki's hearts at the moment, keeping the fascism thing on the backburner is a good way to hedge against unexpected hiccups in legitimacy.

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