Features

Meet Vladimir Putin's real challengers (they're even worse than he is)

Ultra-nationalists like the bizarre Igor Strelkov are the force that Putin feels most need to bend to

30 August 2014

9:00 AM

30 August 2014

9:00 AM

Strange times throw up strange heroes — and in Russia’s proxy war with Ukraine, none is more enigmatic than the Donetsk rebel leader Igor Girkin, better known by his nom de guerre of Igor Strelkov.

In a few short months, Strelkov has gone from being an obscure military re-enactor to the highest-profile rebel leader in eastern Ukraine. But at the same time Strelkov’s fame and outspoken criticism of Vladimir Putin for failing to sufficiently support the rebels has earned him the enmity of the Kremlin. Moreover, Strelkov’s brand of sentimental ultra-nationalism, extreme Orthodoxy and Russian Imperial nostalgia offer a frightening glimpse into one of Russia’s possible futures.

In the West, we are used to seeing Putin cast as a dangerous adventurer and nationalist. But to Strelkov, and to the millions of Russians who have come to admire him, Putin isn’t nearly nationalist enough.

Within weeks of his arrival in eastern Ukraine in May this year, apparently on his own initiative, Strelkov quickly became the highest-profile rebel leader thanks to his discipline and military bearing. A veteran of wars in Bosnia, Transnistria and Chechnya, Strelkov is a reserve colonel in the Russian army and a former (and possibly current) officer in Russia’s military intelligence service, the GRU. With his clipped moustache, pressed fatigues and careful charm, Strelkov styles himself on a pre–revolutionary Tsarist officer. In May he mustered a 2,000-strong local defence force in Slavyansk, banned his troops from swearing and ordered two of his own men to be summarily executed for looting. He wrote a manifesto calling his troops ‘an Orthodox army who are proud that we serve not the golden calf but our Lord Jesus Christ’ and declared that ‘swearing is blasphemy, and a Russian warrior cannot use the language of the enemy. It demeans us spiritually, and will lead the army to defeat.’

Russian state television built Strelkov up as a hero. The nationalist writer Egor Prosvirnin praised him as the ‘Russian God of War’ who ‘drinks the blood of foreign mercenaries to the last drop, and then asks for more’. Russian bloggers designed a spoof of the poster for the film ‘300’ depicting ‘300 Strelkovites’ in heroic poses.

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And then, in mid-August, Strelkov mysteriously resigned his post as ‘defence minister’ of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic — along with two other Russian citizens who had been the civilian heads of the rebel Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. All three rebel leaders were replaced by Ukrainian citizens.

The most obvious explanation for the reshuffle is that Moscow is preparing a negotiated settlement where the Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine — or Novo-Rossiya, ‘New Russia,’ in Russian nationalist parlance — will be given some degree of autonomy within Ukraine. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary — from young soldiers’ Instagram selfies tagged to locations inside Ukraine to the Russian regular soldiers taken prisoners of war on Monday by Kiev’s troops — Moscow has also continued to insist that it is not a combatant in Ukraine. Clearly, having Russian citizens at the helm of supposedly autonomous rebel republics and their armed forces was a diplomatic inconvenience to the Kremlin which needed to be fixed — and pressure was put on Strelkov and his cronies to quit.

But there’s another, deeper meaning to Strelkov’s fall from favour. Though he’s often portrayed as a stooge of Moscow, Strelkov has in fact been consistently critical of the Kremlin’s failure to act decisively to annex eastern Ukraine as it annexed Crimea in spring. ‘Having taken Crimea, Putin began a revolution from the top,’ Strelkov wrote in June. ‘But if we do not support [this revolution] now, its failure will sweep aside both him and the country.’ Strelkov’s close associate Igor Ivanov, the head of the rebel army’s political department, has also furiously denounced the ‘-Chekist-oligarchic regime’ of Vladimir Putin and has also predicted that Putin will soon fall, leaving only the army and the church to save Russia from chaos.

This mix of militarism, religion and a mystical faith in Holy Russia’s imperial destiny to rule over lesser nations has deep roots. Ivanov was until recently head of the Russian All-Military Union, or ROVS, an organisation originally founded by the White Russian General Baron Pyotr Wrangel in 1924 after the victory of the Bolsheviks in the civil war. Its guiding motive was to preserve the Tsarist ideals of God, Tsar and Fatherland. For much of the 20th century, ROVS was the preserve of elderly emigré fantasists — before a new generation of post-Soviet nationalists like Ivanov breathed new life into the organisation as a home for Russian ultra-nationalists who hate Putin’s brand of crony capitalism.

A similar outfit is the Narodny Sobor, or People’s Assembly, which describes itself as an ‘Orthodox-Patriotic organisation devoted to fighting “liberasts” and western values, to promoting Orthodoxy, and to preserving the traditional family’, according to a recent study by Professor Paul Robinson of the University of Ottawa. In Russia, the Narodny Sobor has, along with the Russian Orthodox church, successfully campaigned for a tsunami of conservative legislation to be passed by the Duma, from banning swearing on television and in films to prohibiting the spreading of ‘homosexual propaganda’. The head of the Narodny Sobor’s Ukrainian branch is Igor Druz — a senior political advisor to Strelkov who has denounced the Kiev government as ‘pederasts and drug addicts’.

On the face of it, Strelkov and his ilk and Putin should be on the same side. They share a nostalgia for a lost Russian greatness — indeed Strelkov has a degree in history and was until recently an enthusiastic military re-enactor, playing White Guard and second world war officers. And this year, in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis, Putin has abandoned years of hard-edged pragmatism and economic prudence and moved towards the kind of mystical, Orthodox nationalism so beloved of the ROVS and Narodny Sobor crowd.

Yet as Putin prepares to sign off on some kind of compromise peace deal with the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, there will be millions of Russians brainwashed by months of state television’s patriotic propaganda who will agree with Strelkov that Moscow is selling the rebels down the river.

Strelkov himself has little chance of becoming a serious opposition figure to Putin; he is too stiff and too weird for public politics. But Putin’s main challenger, when he comes, will be someone of Strelkov’s stamp.

We tend to think of Vladimir Putin as being most politically vulnerable from the left — from the liberal, western-orientated professionals who came out in their hundreds of thousands on the streets of Moscow and St Petersburg three years ago to protest at Putin’s third term. But in truth Putin’s real vulnerability is from the right — from the racist football fans who rioted unchecked through central Moscow in 2010; from prophets of a Russian-led Eurasian empire such as Alexander Dugin, who was in the radical nationalist opposition to Putin before falling temporarily into step with the Kremlin in the wake of the Crimea campaign; and from militaristic ultra–conservatives on the Russian religious right.

Owen Matthews is the author of Stalin’s Children and Glorious Misadventures, and headed Newsweek’s Moscow bureau from 2006 to 2012.

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Show comments
  • Dr. Heath

    Religions, obviously, come in many different forms. There have been more schisms producing more new sects and cults within the Christian church since the fourth century [since the crucifixion, perhaps??] than, I’d wager, historians have in fact managed to record.

    The same goes for Fascism. Most religious and most fascist sects and cults are of course too weird for outsiders to understand without having been born into or raised inside the hermetically sealed isolation units, the national cultures, which gave rise to them.

    It’s possible to find numerous articles on the internet by polemicists arguing either that Putin’s Russia is a 21st century version of pre-Second World War Italian or German Fascism or that it is not. I think that this piece by Owen Matthews firmly nails it in favour of the “Yes” camp. You know how it goes; if it quacks like a duck, swims like a duck….. Ein Putin, Ein Volk. Or, maybe, in time, it will be Ein Strelkov, Ein Narod. It seems to be, clearly, just a matter of time.

    The perhaps forgivable error that historians made during the decades-long lifespan of the USSR was in failing to notice the development of these Putinite or Strelkovian or Duginite fascist strains during an age when mass-murder, industrialised slavery and terror grabbed all the headlines. There are reports of racist football fans running amok in Moscow in 2010? Really? A friend, a committed Russophile who has remained blinkered to all things unsavoury connected with Russia since adolescence, reported far, far worse things than this, far worse examples of xenophobic, paranoid and militantly eliminationist ethno-fascism in Russia back in the 70s and 80s. Needless to say, this was the sort of stuff that never, ever made it into the press outside the USSR and was never deemed worthy of investigation by pre-collapse sovietologists.

    • Злой Преступник Карбофос

      Am I supposed to believe that Russia or USSR are the only country in the world that had national based tensions, while segregation in USA does not exist since it was proclaimed it did not exist, and that Ferguson occurred suddenly without a reason? Somebody wants to look like a smartass here, but fails to see obvious things while accusing Russia in all possible sins, strange you did not involve this moronic cliché about Stalin being worse than Hitler.

      • Dr. Heath

        You aren’t supposed to believe anything, evil criminal. I said that all forms of religion and fascism are unique. Putin, whose regime is based on the same sort of mindless ethnic chauvinism, hatred of most of its neighbours, the championing of a personality cult and the repression of opponents and a murderous assault on the free media inside Russia, is fascist in his own way.

        Of course no one would want to compare Putin to Hitler. The people Putin has murdered, the journalists, the Chechens, are far few in number in number than the millions killed by the nazis. But a fascist murderer is a fascist murderer however many victims he has had shot.

        Finding fault with other nations to deflect attention from your own is called ‘whataboutery’. The Guardian’s site has hundreds of posts, some by Russians using Russian names or Cyrillic script nicks, some appended below make-believe names and full of the sort of anti-semitism, moronic whataboutery and grammatical errors that point to the author’s background. Why don’t you try your luck with the Comment is Free site? It’s the most heavily censored site on the web, so it would perhaps suit someone from Putin’s Russia.

        • Baron

          You speak Russian, Dr.Heath? Then google ‘tv rain’, and listen, watch, come back and tell which one single TV channel here is as critical of our political elite as these Russian youngsters are of the Putin’s regime.

          An another thing: it may be pretty awful under Putin, but the Russians have never had it so good since the 16th century oprichnina.

          • Daniel

            Russians have never had it so good since Brezhnev. Oprichnina is highly overrated (despite the efforts of certain history teachers I met to sell it as a great thing for the state and the people, it was just pure senselessly destructive thuggery); Brezhnev is underrated, at least abroad.

          • Злой Преступник Карбофос

            Now try to imagine how corrupted the society was before oprichnina if some history teachers say its a good thing. Idea itself is not as bad. But it needs saints to be responsible for it to make it work. Main idea is to restrict those who rob and oppress ordinary people, its the aim of such reforms.

          • Dr. Heath

            It seems I’ve been conned into believing that the entire population of Putlerstan is one big chunk of adoring humanity that worships the demented moron. Thanks for recommending the tv rain items.

        • Henrick Chan

          Except that all of these have been norms of human civilization since time immemorial. The same phenomena can still be observed in most developing countries in varying degrees today. If you want to see changes quick, well the quickest way to fix all of this is through complete genocide and then repopulate these countries with Northern European population like what they did with Australia and North America centuries ago. We in the Western world have lived in liberal democracy for too long, and have been tricked into thinking that this is the way things have always been. You’ll know it’s not the case if you grew up in a piss poor developing country. That said, there is one aspect that sets Russia apart from other developing countries that are also slowly progressing from medieval ideological tutelage towards enlightenment. Russia under Putin is using expansionist foreign policy to distract public attention from domestic issues in the hope of delaying enlightenment. (the same can also be said of China, North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia and etc) This is where interventions should focus on if they must be proposed at all, not on the internal dynamics. Sadly US foreign policy has been doing exactly the opposite in recent decades. There’s been countless attempts at engineering coup d’teat and violent regime changes that lead to very few cases of positive outcome, while little effort was made to prevent nation states from declaring war on each other.

        • Злой Преступник Карбофос

          Can you name the ethnos Putin is shauvinistically supporting? Hatred of MOST of neighbours, well lets name them? Baltics – yes they hate, their elites that serve the west hate Russia and Russians, not Putin. Certain states do not even give Russians a citizenship by right of being born there yet before proclaimed independence. Belarus – obviously prorussian, and we love them. Ukraine – years of propaganda and last months of forced propaganda turned big part of Ukrainian population into dumb cattle, same was successfully done in Georgia, but I hope that it would not happen to Ukraine. Kazakhstan – there are some tensions caused by kazakhs are of different race and idea of Russian Empire colonized them is quite popular, but in all relations are good and kazakhs mostly speak Russian and tend to Russia. Attitude to Putin is caused by propaganda, i’m not a big fan of him myself, better say i’m not a fan of him at all, but what I hear and read about him is out of reality. Other middle Asian and Caucasian republics have neutral attitude, to Russia, Putin and Russians, they depend on Russia and they have to live with it. So what other neighbours do we have… China and DPRK are in good relations with us and with nice attitude to Putin personally. Japan is not, but who cares of a country whose foreign policy is guided from Washington.

          Assault of opponents, free media? Could you name real opponents of Putin that were oppressed, I hope its not that thief and murderer Khodorkovsky, who could be Putins opponent only in context of who gained more capital during robbery of peoples property during ‘privatisation’ or pseudointellectual and ‘artistic’ group of girls named ‘pussy riot’. One of members of which even wrote an article for Guardian on subject she certainly knows nothing of.
          Please provide with names killed by Putin, not ones who became victims of system that was created by Yeltsyn and his oligarchy, which Putin is ruling and does not control fully. Also its wonderful that you mentioned chechens killed by Putin in a day when Russia mourns kids and their parents massacred in Beslan 10 years ago by those wonderful people you blame Putin was killing. Don’t you support Islamic State of Iraq and Levant btw? I have to warn you, it could be dangerous in your democratic state nowadays, despite they funded and armed them.
          Finding fault in other nations was what you were actually doing, but you have an epic butthurt once I asked you innocent questions, just to point out that any country in damned world has problems, including ethnic, and for me, as a citizen of Russia its more than obvious that racial problems in USA are times more deeper and unsolved that ethnic conflicts happening in Russia, just because we’ve had a system that abolished segregation and nationalism and fought it systematically for 70 years in a row, which never happened in the west, as it always relied on slavery, or semi-slavery.
          Whats your problem about Russians writing at Guardian site? That your propagandistic stamps would be pointed out and laughed at? Its of course better to live in your imaginary world, imagining orcs from Mordor, evil hitlerite Putin while own leaders create conflicts allover the world and massacre people with thousands not to fight terrorism, but to access their resourses, or to simply rob, like was with Libya and Kaddafi family. Russian, as you call it anti-Semitism (also I have no idea how you divide Russians from other non-English speakers by grammar, you must be very smart and know all languages of the world) comes out from rusophobic jewish self-proclaimed elites, not from judophoby. When so-called elite of jewish origin systematically calls Russians cattle and drunk scum just because their parents managed to steal more than others in 90s, no surprise Russians would not be fond of such comparisons. But thing is, Russians do not have jews as a nation, they hate those who behave the way I said only and I doubt you’ll have any success to prove its not like that, or to prove that jews are restricted in Russia, having problems from they are jews or smth like that. Russia has open border with Israel, with no necessity to have a visa, while you hypocritically speak of anti-Semitism in Russia and democracy in yours.

      • Dr. Heath

        You aren’t supposed to believe anything, evil criminal. I said that all forms of religion and fascism are unique. Putin, whose regime is based on the same sort of mindless ethnic chauvinism, hatred of most of its neighbours, the championing of a personality cult and the repression of opponents and a murderous assault on the free media inside Russia, is fascist in his own way.

        Of course no one would want to compare Putin to Hitler. The people Putin has murdered, the journalists, the Chechens, are far few in number in number than the millions killed by the nazis. But a fascist murderer is a fascist murderer however many victims he has had shot.

        Finding fault with other nations to deflect attention from your own is called ‘whataboutery’. The Guardian’s site has hundreds of posts, some by Russians using Russian names or Cyrillic script nicks, some appended below make-believe names and full of the sort of anti-semitism, moronic whataboutery and grammatical errors that point to the author’s background. Why don’t you try your luck with the Comment is Free site? It’s the most heavily censored site on the web, so it would perhaps suit someone from Putin’s Russia.

      • maxime1793

        How come I cannot respond to Dr Heath’s comment below? How can you make a comment on Disqus and block replies?

        • Buzzy123

          Dont know-I can

        • Злой Преступник Карбофос

          I don’t know why you could not, I have “reply” button working still for his comments.

    • Henrick Chan

      There’s no essential difference between a communist government and a fascist one in terms of organizational structure. Differences exist only on the rhetorical and aesthetic level. Both are about forcefully implementing aggressive collectivist social experiments that limit individual freedom and demand unconditional cooperation. And since socialist experiments always failed economically, communism and authoritarian socialism will absolutely always lead to fascism or national socialism. In fact if one looks back at the original writings of Marx one would realize that they had nothing to do with feminism or same sex marriage and so on. These are all ‘post-modernist’ ideas that originate from classical liberalism and are individualist in nature. Modern day Marxist student groups in Europe and Australia are in fact confused libertarians who ended up reading the wrong books. They’re better off dropping the Marxist colors and tone of speech when they preach individual freedom and rights if they really want to sound like they know what they’re talking about.

  • Jose Martins

    “In the West, we are used to seeing Putin cast as a dangerous adventurer and nationalist.”

    That’s the image mainstream media portraits.

    In fact he’s the consequence of the West’s irresponsible policy towards post Soviet Russia.
    The enlargement of Nato and the EU to the east, the meddling in internal affairs of countries like Ucraine could only be seen as a threat from a Russian perspective.

    All this was intentional and criminal, fruit of politicians and military that couldn’t let go the old Cold War mentality, thousands of Nato cosy jobs that would face unemployment, large arms contracts that would have no buyer, an European Union more Napoleonic by the day.

    Putin, maybe in a twisted way, has Russia’s interest at the heart of his decisions; and he’s, undoubtedly, at the helm of things.

    We have clownish figures at the service of banksters working to preserve a status quo that only benefits the conspicuous 1% and throws our once proud West in a most ignominious decadency.

    • Peter Stroud

      Certainly, the meddling EU by the awful Baroness Ashton, ably supported by Hague, was bound to make Putin nervous. Now we have a situation where the Crimea has been annexed, and theEU, and the US will, at some time in the future, have to recognise it as part of Russia. As to the rest of Ukraine: who knows what will happen. It is a bugger’s muddle.

      • Draußen besser dran

        The EU which burns billions of our money (which could be used for defense) and allows inane Italian socialists who cannot manage their own country to define our foreign policy, that very EU is the reason why major European countries are so weak. The UK has a larger economy than Russia, and the fastest growing one of all G7 countries. Yet Britain loses billions every year to a EU producing bans on lightbulbs, hairdryers, and millions of unemployed people.
        The EU is a bigger threat than Russia.

    • Daniel

      Putin has his own interests at the heart of his decisions. Luckily for us they coincide with our interests… up to a point. I don’t think Ukraine is a good example of this though. Here his interests coincide more with our delusions and neuroses than with the objective needs of the Russian people.

    • http://josephsoleary.typepad.com Joseph

      another snippet of Russian propaganda — this site is infiltrated

  • Baron

    Owen Matthews: “We tend to think of Vladimir Putin as being most politically vulnerable from the left ….”

    Quite, Mr. Matthews, but why should the West think that, that’s the question to ask.

    • Daniel

      Seriously, no one in Russia is “vulnerable from the left” except for Neo-Nazi skinheads who occasionally get beaten up by National-Bolshevik skinheads – assuming that still happens anymore. Otherwise the Left in Russia isn’t just a whipped dog, it’s toothless and dying.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

    “Ultra-nationalists like the bizarre Igor Strelkov are the force that Putin feels most need to bend to”

    Why is the “conservative” Spectator constantly giving us articles post marked from the Kremlin?

    “The basic weapon in the Soviet political armory is the KGB with its 5 or 6 million secret agents inside the USSR. Together, the Party and the KGB have fabricated controlled political opposition in the main cities of the USSR and in the national Republics. Together they have chosen and trained the organizers, leaders and activists of the new `democratic’, `non-Communist’, `nationalist’ and `independent’ organizations which are mushrooming under the Soviet `multi-Party system’. Even non-democratic groups like the anti-Semitic `Pamyat’ movement are creatures of the regime.” — November 1990, from “The Perestroika Deceptionp” (page 123), by KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn.

    Now you know why up until 2013 all the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Georgia were Soviet era Communist Party member Quislings, except for the first president of Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, a true dissident who didn’t even last nine months in office before he was ousted in a coup, later said to have committed “suicide”. Zviad Gamsakhurdia was a failed test run to see if a non-Communist Party member president could be controlled.

    • Buzzy123

      and controlled opposition in postings on British papers and mags as well

      • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

        “and controlled opposition in postings on British papers and mags as well”

        Not only British media, of course.

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    Strelkov, “bizarre“? Hardly. Maybe only to those who don’t know what a true conservative patriot looks like. Strelkov seems a rather sound chap actually. Which is more than can be said about the mental pygmies and sick mofos that currently head the governments of the West.

    • pfgpowell

      Well, your position is pretty clear then.

      I suspect you, too,
      suffer from golden ageism where TV ain’t what it used to be, Marmite has
      really gone downhill, and as for modern politicians, well, aren’t they
      the pits!

      Actually, a very capable politician is thrown up every
      so often, often men of their moment who might otherwise atrophy in some
      political backwater, but as a rule those attracted to politics as a way
      of life (‘I’m absolutely passionate about voting protocols!’) tend to be
      of the metaphorical pygmy variety of humanity. It’s as though they
      can’t think of anything better to do.

      The sad thing is that the lives, welfare and future of the rest of us depends on their fatuous vanity.

      • Laguna Beach Fogey

        Not a golden age, per se, just one that was less bronze.

    • Michael Egorov

      I’m even surprised.. If he’s a treat to Putin, wants to establish people’s government, finds so many supporters even among commenters here.. He’s nothing like ISIS leaders or Bin Laden once supported by the US..

      Why no single Western leader supports him?

    • Sunnyhorse

      You think he’s so great? I wish you and the rest of your fellow American “patriots” would hop a plane to Russia and stay there. We don’t need your scary, antiquated way of thinking.

  • J Andris

    A sad and distorted copy of this article- http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/putins-right-flank/ with a little dose of Russophobia to make it appealing to the masses..Try being a bit more original next time sir..

    • Laguna Beach Fogey

      Good catch. Copy quality at The Speccie seems to be slipping of late. I remember this magazine when it was actually conservative.

      • J Andris

        I cannot claim to be a regular of the Speccie,but sadly,conservative press in the West is fast becoming as common as the Dodo.

    • pearlsandoysters

      Thanks for the link, it much much better than the article.

  • storibund

    there will be millions of Russians brainwashed by months of state television’s patriotic propaganda who will agree with Strelkov that Moscow is selling the rebels down the river.

    On the contrary, national polls in Russia have been overwhelmingly against Putin involving the country in the Ukraine civil war.

    • Злой Преступник Карбофос

      Russians haven’t heard about such polls.

    • maxime1793

      I’m not sure about that. Of course, they don’t want to declare war on the Ukraine, much less NATO, but that does not mean supporting the rebels is not popular.

  • Semyon Koshechkin

    “…from the liberal, western-orientated professionals who came out in their hundreds of thousands on the streets of Moscow and St Petersburg three years ago to protest at Putin’s third term. But in truth Putin’s real vulnerability is from the right — from the racist football fans who rioted unchecked through central Moscow in 2010”

    You are wrong twice here. First, protesters were both left and right: nationalists, liberals and socialists of all kinds. Second, racist football fans have little to do with orthdox nationalists like Narodny Sobor and democratic nationalists like Prosvirnin or Navalny (even though one hates the other).

    There are many kinds of nationalists in Russia. Most of them approves Crimea annextion, but despises Putin. Because everyone knows he’s insincere. He tries to appease all of them by conjuring a weird mix of soviet and orthodox emperial ideals, but it doesn’t work no more.

    • Daniel

      It works on most people, just not on those guys and their followers. However, they are marginal – and proud of it, which I imagine has something to do with their reluctance to fall in line.

  • gulag

    Both Strelkov and Putin are not nationalists. Go do you homework, boy.

  • Илья

    “Holy Russia’s imperial destiny to rule over lesser nations”

    Russian nationalists no longer want that. Immigration fears made them [us?] want russians in, non-russians out.

    But russian nationalists do not consider most of people in Ukraine (and all the Belarus, and a good chunk of Kazakhstan) anyone else than (a flavour of) russians.

    So no, russian nationalists don’t want to “rule over lesser ukrainians”, they want to absorb these people along with their land into the greater Russia.

    The notable exception is lands and people of Ukraine who still belonged to Austria in the first half of XX century. These people aren’t considered russian material, and russian nationalists consider leaving them sovereign (but influenced) in their tiny western Ukraine.

    S&P has more materials on this if you like.

    • Roger Hudson

      A new small state based on Lemberg (Lviv) for the western Ukrainians.
      I read a good book about the Holodomor recently, a great insight into Ukrainian history.

      • Илья

        Yeah, something like that.

        From russian nationalistic perspective, Golodomor is just another soviet crime against greater russian nation – not seriously distinct from e. g. Volga region famine. Deadly soviet crimes aren’t in any short supply anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000430238063 Ezer Patakon

    Is funny because several spanish Communists “anti fascist” are fighting in Donbass, recalling the International Brigades who fought for the spanish Republic en the spanish civil war .

    It’s fun because Ivanov is a nostalgic of the regime of General Franco, the “ROVS” fought on the fascist side in the Spanish civil war. On the 70th anniversary of the end of the civil war wrote an manifesto anti-Communist commemorative of “the anti-Communist crusade” of spanish civil war . He’s in favor of banning the Russian Communist Party.

    So the organization that killed communists and spanish Republicans in 1936 are fighting on the same side of the spanish communists “anti fascist” . They fought even Hitler favor in the WW2, like UPA of Bandera

    • Simon_in_London

      And likewise Ukrainean Fascists are fighting on the Western-Ukrainean side, being backed by anti-Fascist US and EU interests.

    • Daniel

      Oh, Bandera is a lot funnier than that. He tried to side with Hitler, but Hitler didn’t want him, understandably, because Bandera and his followers weren’t exactly soldier material – they preferred to butcher civilians (Jews and Poles mostly) and other, rival Ukrainean nationalists behind the frontlines while hiding from both Soviets and Nazis who could actually bite back effectively.

      As a Russian I’m not a fan of Ukrainean nationalism. But there were far more decent Ukrainian nationalists to idolise: as in, any of them. Pick Melnik or Petlyura or whoever you want. Yet somehow Bandera is their great hero now.

  • MartinWW

    “…banning swearing on television and in films to prohibiting the spreading of ‘homosexual propaganda’…. I think rather a lot people would like to see that here in UK.

    • oliver

      welcome to 1950

      • Simon_in_London

        1850 was better.

    • Kaine

      Sadly we do have our share of bitter crackpots who are both repressed and repressive. As these threads aptly demonstrate.

  • http://ostrovletania.blogspot.com/ Andrea Ostrov Letania

    This is all just a Jewish War on Russia. UK is a whore-nation to US that is ruled by Jewish supremacists. Jews are out to get Putin because he’s a patriot who thinks Russians should rule over Russia. Brit whores who write for the Spectator are busily serving Jewish oligarchs.

    • Dr. Heath

      Posting nazi comments in support of Putin and Russia only confirms the widespread feeling that nazi sentiment runs strong in your country. Given the history of the USSR, this is most sickening and bizarre. Do you want to sound like Hitler?

      • Simon_in_London

        The Western Neo-Nazis are pretty ambivalent about the Ukraine-Russia war, since the anti-Russian Ukraineans were a Nazi ally, but now the West is backing them vs Russia. The most common view I’ve seen is that Ukrainean nationalists are being fooled by the West/evil Jews into fighting as cannon fodder for Western/Jewish interests.

        • Buzzy123

          Wow-Simon_London-must be closely related to Michael_in_London

          Or is that only your name in the Moscow Times whilst Simon is your name in the Spectator–never mind. Everyone knows you live in Russia anyway with your constant syntax errors and obvious misspellings when you use your Google translator

          • Simon_in_London

            No relation I’m afraid – I’ve never heard of Michael in London. I’m a British academic, so I hope my syntax & spelling isn’t too bad!

            Personally, as far as Ukraine goes, I’ve been in favour of partition ever since reading Huntington’s 1994 The Clash of Civilizations (sic) which described it as a divided country. Huntington advocated that Western-religion former USSR territories like the Baltic Republics & western Ukraine be incorporated into the West, but did not advocate trying to incorporate the ‘Orthodox World’ into the West, Rather it should be secure within its own borders.

      • http://ostrovletania.blogspot.com/ Andrea Ostrov Letania

        Russia today isn’t the USSR. Besides, the Ukraine famine was carried out by Georgian Stalin and his Jewish henchman like Kaganovich

        And what about the history of Great Britain and its slave trade and imperialism?
        And what about Jewish role in communism? The Zionist genocide of Palestinians?
        The Jewish robbery via finance capitalism?

        Jewish oligarchs almost swallowed all of Russia in the 90s. Wall Street Jews robbed the world in the 2000s. Of course, Jews control most media and politicians in UK.

        • Dr. Heath

          Read Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands if you feel as though you’d like to inform your repellent, nazi comments with something resembling the truth. Whataboutery is for morons, especially when it involves the slave trade. Jesus wept. Are there lots of National Socialists like you living in the Russian Federation? Are you a spokesperson for Putin’s fascist party? You certainly sound like one.

          • Charlie

            Andrea Ostrov Letania, your appearance is radically at odds with your views.

          • http://ostrovletania.blogspot.com/ Andrea Ostrov Letania

            Timothy Snyder is a dirty servant of globalist Jews. Besides, Jews like Kaganovich played an active role in the mass murder of Ukrainians. And Stalin was a Georgian. Snyder overlooks the Jewish role in the horrors of the 20th century. Publishing is dominated by Jew oligarchs, and Snyder is their boy. He’s filth. Yet, you fell for his shit. Lol.

      • Daniel

        Given the history of the USSR, what exactly is sickening and bizarre? That people who suffered from one extreme would throw themselves into another willy nilly? It’s rather unpleasant, yes, but it is also very widespread.

      • Paolo Moleman

        Go back and see who the Bolsheviks were. They came out of New York City and they were not Orthodox Christians.

    • MC73

      So if ‘da Joos’ are anti-Putin and the Orthodox Strelkov is anti-Putin, does this mean da Joos have co-opted him too? Or have they subverted the Orthodox church, the devious little sods?

      You’ve got to hand it to them though, world Jewish population of 14m and they manage to be secretly in charge of everything…

      • Buzzy123

        and fill the paranoia of literally dozens of ects around the world-truly amazing at that

  • MC73

    A Christian conservative nationalist? Didn’t we use to have men like that?

    • global city

      till the Left wing Blob killed them all

    • Kaine

      No, since it’s a contradiction in terms.

  • TheKritik

    Misinformation as usual.It is a proxy war between Russia and the west and it was the west who started it by financing an uprising ($40/person/day) and the forceful removal of yanukovich.

    • Thomas Alan

      Where is your proof? Yanukovich was impeached. The majority of the violence were the Police firing on protesters. Some 80 died. Show me proof of a Western backed overthrow and a $40/person/day uprising. If you have no proof than this is just more Putin propaganda.

  • pfgpowell

    Well, your position is pretty clear then.

    I suspect you, too, suffer from golden ageism where TV ain’t what it used to be, Marmite has really gone downhill, and as for modern politicians, well, aren’t they the pits!

    Actually, a very capable politician is thrown up every so often, often men of their moment who might otherwise atrophy in some political backwater, but as a rule those attracted to politics as a way of life (‘I’m absolutely passionate about voting protocols!’) tend to be of the metaphorical pygmy variety of humanity. It’s as though they can’t think of anything better to do.

    The sad thing is that the lives, welfare and future of the rest of us depends on their fatuous vanity.

  • Simon_in_London

    And it all has absolutely nothing to do with us. None of them want to attack us; if we’d stop messing with them (eg by trying to push NATO’s borders to the gates of Moscow), we could have cordial relations with any of them. But no, we (ie Western neocons & neolibs) have to keep wreaking havoc in eastern Europe, just like the Middle East.

    • Buzzy123

      You are spouting nonsense again Simon/Michael in London

      • Jerome Leroy

        If your really want Russia to die, I suggest you fly to Kiev and join one of those militias. You will be back before winter, mind. GOOD LUCK! <3

  • global city

    What is even scarier is Barosso giving warnings to Russia about ‘not realising the power of the EU’ and how ‘they would not be pushed around’. He also said something eerily close to threatening war. Since when did the EU have all this power?

    • terence patrick hewett

      The only military powers in Europe are Britain and France and NATO.

      • global city

        Absolutely… that’s what makes the presumptions of Barosso so scary and not just irritating.

      • SolidBro

        Since when is France a military power? Sweden could conquer France in a week. And don’t even think about Germany.

  • Daniel

    Word of advice, no one writes it as “Novo-Rossia”. That’s just bizarre. Do you write Nor-Folk? New-Castle? Novo isn’t even a word in Russian, but I guess the former head of Newsweek’s Moscow bureau wouldn’t know.

  • Daniel

    That last paragraph is just bizarre though. The people who listen(ed) to Pinochet and Apartheid apologists Novodvorskaya and Latynina and agitate and vote for xenophobia pusher Navalny and bigoted criminal vigilante Roizman are “the left”? There is a left-wing opposition in Russia, though it is even more marginal than the right-wing liberal one. Neither they nor the far right are important or independent in themselves – they’re merely tools for one group or another in the ruling clique to use as they will. The only danger to Putin comes from the clique – if the oligarchs and the siloviki find it expeditious to sacrifice him, he is done for. Liberals would probably be used for convenience in this process.

    Note, I admit I am very skeptical about the prospects of “people power” in general – in Ukraine and in Egypt, it’s plain to me that the people involved were more or less hoodwinked almost from the start. But in Russia there is no chance of even that kind of spontaneous manifestation playing any part except for political theatre.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

    The article reads, “Moreover, Strelkov’s brand of sentimental ultra-nationalism, extreme Orthodoxy and Russian Imperial nostalgia offer a frightening glimpse into one of Russia’s possible futures.”

    The fact that thousands of hated statues to Lenin are still standing in nearly every Russian town after the fraudulent “collapse” of the USSR informs one that Strelkov is a Communist operative playing his part in this Kremlin production…

    http://www.saint-petersburg.com/monuments/ploshchad-lenina/

    See where it reads, “Almost every town in Russia has a prominent statue of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, father of the October Revolution, but few have the historic significance of this vast monument in front of the Finland Railway Station.”

    Those thousands of statues were supposed to come down in late 1991, but as you can see the collapse of the USSR was an obvious fraud, which the media refuses to inform us.

    Moscow and Saint Petersburg each have dozens of statues to the hated Lenin still standing. The only statues of Lenin and Marx that were taken down were located in those sections of the cites where Western tourists go to the most, and those statues were tucked away in museums or parks, such as Fallen Monument Park in Moscow…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallen_Monument_Park

    As KGB defector Major Anaotoliy Golitsyn informed the CIA back in 1990, “The basic weapon in the Soviet political armory is the KGB with its 5 or 6 million secret agents inside the USSR. Together, the Party and the KGB have fabricated controlled political opposition in the main cities of the USSR and in the national Republics. Together they have chosen and trained the organizers, leaders and activists of the new `democratic’, `non-Communist’, `nationalist’ and `independent’ organizations which are mushrooming under the Soviet `multi-Party system’. Even non-democratic groups like the anti-Semitic `Pamyat’ movement are creatures of the regime.” — “The Perestroika Deception”, p. 123.

    Google:‘the perestroika deception pdf’

    Shame on The Spectator for posting a Kremlin-tasked article by Owen Matthews!

  • Mahound

    Who said that the leader of a band of rebels need to be a clean-cut nice guy? The Contras rebels in Nicaragua – supported by the US to keep its near-abroad in line – weren’t exactly the kind of guys you’d take to a picnic in a convent either.

    As for the White Russians, the UK should hang its head in shame for handing over anti-bolshevik White Russians to the evil Soviets in the 40s.

  • Roger Hudson

    Why has the west not made more of the parading of captured Russian soldiers on TV, it is forbidden under the Geneva laws of war making Kiev criminal ,again (shelling of civilian areas). They need to push Poroshenko to give proper autonomous Oblast status to the east and not use him as a pawn in an anti-BRICS economic struggle.

  • thomasaikenhead

    “Igor Strelkov: the face of Russia’s frightening future”

    What is frightening for the UK perspective about a Russian like Strelkov?

    Perhaps less time ought to be spent daydreaming about potential future threats from overseas and more on the actual threats to the UK at home, for example the 1,400 white, English, Christian schoolgirls abused by gangs of Muslim men of Pakistani origin over a period of decades?

    Far too much time is spent speculating on events overseas and far too little on the reality of life in Britain today.

    Yes, the Nigerians girls abducted by Islamic militants in Nigeria is a tragedy, but where are the British politicians and celebrities sending messages of support and demanding action on social media for the abused girls of Rotherham?

    Why have only five men even been convicted of the abuse?

    How many other girls have been abused in other British towns?

    Is Rotherham an isolated incident or part of a pattern of abuse that has spread across the UK with the victims suffering horrific abuse on an industrial scale?

    If the latter, then how many victims are there, thousands or even tens of thousands?

    Is it not time that politicians and the press addressed the actual threat to British children rather than fussing over events abroad?

    • Kaine

      Children can’t have a religion, and even if they did you have no idea what it is, not that it matters one jot anyway.

  • cromwell

    We need patriots like him in England to counter the poison in Rotherham.

    • Paolo Moleman

      Indeed. I totally agree.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

    For those not in the know, the so-called Ukrainian “separatists” are actually Russian Spetsnaz and Guards Airborne troops, which is why
    a Ruusian colonel, Igor Strelkov, is in command and not a Ukrainian.

    These Russian military units entered the Ukraine last February when the Ukrainian population revolted nationwide due to the weakened security apparatus within the nation, where most of the Ukrainian Army was in either Syria or Iraq, or preparing to enter Iraq from Turkey, pretending to be Muslim “Jihadists” (Islamic State). The Islamic State “Jihadists” wearing the silly masks are the Ukrainians, hiding their pale Caucasian identities.

    Now that the rebellion in the Ukraine is winding down, Putin can “…sign off on some kind of compromise peace deal with the Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, there will be millions of Russians brainwashed by months of state television’s patriotic propaganda who will agree with Strelkov that Moscow is selling the rebels down the river.”

    See my comment below for more on this spiked news story…

  • Maria

    We will all love him when he sends Euro-Islam on the run. Checnya you say? He knows his man then.
    Personally I wouldn’t have any problem living in a country where the Church was a major influence in the political affairs of the day. At least with Christ everyone will keep their heads literally and reasonably.

    • Paolo Moleman

      I was baptised Catholic and the Orthodox is better. Rome sold out to the Illuminati.

      • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

        “Rome sold out to the Illuminati.”

        Rome sold out to no one (as if), it was infiltrated and co-opted by Marxists over one-hundred years ago.

  • Kirill Dmitriev

    “Ultra-nationalists like the bizarre Igor Strelkov ” – typical phrase of illiterate journalist absolutely unprepared on the subject and having no idea he is writing about…

  • Paolo Moleman

    LOL! As opposed to Dave Cameron who’s family have worked for banksters for hundreds of years financing wars, check his Wiki. Or Milliband. Or Obama. Or Baroso and Van Rompouy. It must be nice to have some ultra nationalists who are not in favor of having their borders invaded by illegal aliens and asylum seekers who ended up raping the indigenous children while the police do nothing.

    Or leaders who refuse to trransform their country into a third world state through open borders where all the male babies are now called Mohammed. The West will continue to sink while serious and intelligent people gain strength.

  • pearlsandoysters

    It’s positively funny to read the following statement: “Putin has abandoned years of hard-edged pragmatism and economic prudence and moved towards the kind of mystical, Orthodox nationalism so beloved of the ROVS and Narodny Sobor crowd.”
    Firstly, “Orthodox nationalism” is really weird, once nationalism is often considered a toxic byproduct of modernity and result of the decline of religious feeling. Probably, the author meant “Orthodox patriotism”, especially in the context that Russia used to be an empire. The doctrine “For Faith, Tzar & Fatherland” indeed was part & parcel of imperial Russia coupled with Russian brand of exceptional ism. I guess Orthodox patriotism is much better than nationalism. Secondly, there’s nothing remotely “mystical” about interdependence of religious believes & political regimes. Many well respected academics wrote extensively on the subject (Eric Vogelin, Sheldon Wolin, not to mention Richard Hooker for example.)
    Actually, these guys seem to resemble American paleoconservatives & highly unlikely to gain power in any foreseeable future.

  • Michael Skellig

    You in the West are already in your frightening future.

  • rtj1211

    Perhaps you’d like to cite General Tojo to the morons on Capitol Hill whose rocks will only be emptied when Vladimir Putin is out of the Kremlin, out of his mistress’ bed and out of his Black Sea dacha for good.

    Go ask ordinary Russians what they think of Putin. Don’t ask the owner of the Independent, don’t ask Garry Kasparov and don’t ask Zbiginiew Brezinski. Ask ordinary Russians.

    They will tell you that they think he is a good leader.

    Not because he takes them to war. Not because he hates Americans.

    No. Because he is trying to ensure that the wealth Russia earns from oil and gas is used to benefit ordinary Russians, however imperfectly that may be happening in Russia today.

    The West wants war in Ukraine and it is my opinion that some brutal assassinations are required behind the scenes to murder those promoting it. Bankers, arms dealers, politicians and billionaires. Not to mention big agriculture.

    Putin does NOT, repeat NOT want war in Ukraine.

    Just because you read in the Western press that he does, doesn’t make it true.

    The Western Press is organised professional lying, always has been, always will be.

    It really doesn’t behove Britain to call Putin a warmonger. Simple data since 1990 shows that the UK goes to war far more aggressively, far more belligerently and far more frequently than Russia does.

    Oh but it would be a castration offence for the Western journalists to lie about this……

  • http://freemasonrywatch.org/ Freemasonry Watch

    Go back to New York City ‘Mathew’.

  • http://freemasonrywatch.org/ Freemasonry Watch

    “Holy Russia’s imperial destiny to rule over lesser nations” – has a nice ring to it doesn’t it? Start with Nato’s 28 Masonic Politician Paradises where Bro. Putin will be sure to find refuge, when the time is right.

  • Jason Alexander

    Anything that makes liberal, globalist scum like you frightened is a good thing.

  • Vladislav Feldman

    Strelkov having an 87% approval rating in Russia, is 2% above Putins rating. This approval rating was achieved by giving 20, 4 minute reports on the victories or losses of “DNR” fighting forces. As Strelkov always, went on record, said he will never be a political figure and only a field officer. Although he does personaly support a Tsarist officers ethos, he is realistic and not stringent about it, his own adjutant being a communist. A sight at what moral/ethical standard the man adheres to, is that he lives in two adjoining flats with his mother and has no car. A very average Russian citizen. Where as if he wanted to a major in the army has the ability to obtain a lot more than that, without really trying, through slightly dubious, but socialy acceptable ways.

  • Marina Arane

    He is not bizarre, he is a regular psychopath. Watch his mimics – none. It is psychiatry 101.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gLhmm5dADc Tom O’Bedlam

    Hail AZOV

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