But fighting migrants, as in the past, is still a winning theme for nationalists, because even though some state people from time to time gang up against migrants, talking about “ghettos,” “ethnic crime” and so on, they do so sporadically and there are only a few of them. And if you are constantly active in this area, then you can be seen to have seized the initiative, which, in fact, we observed in July in Kotelniki, near Moscow,
where the police staged a raid in a Muslim prayer house.
The initiative there was on the side of small nationalist organizations, the most active being the so-called Russian Community (Russkaia Obshchina
), and law enforcement appeared only later. For everyone who was somehow involved in or at least followed that story, the initiators and winners are nationalist activists. This gives them some hope, but big successes are still very far away.Clearly, the war with Ukraine has given the far right a chance. They turned out to be needed both for propaganda and to actually fight. Is it possible to put the genie of nationalism back in the bottle?
There are basically two types of Russian nationalists: those who generally (albeit with varying degrees of criticism) support the Russian government in the armed conflict with Ukraine, and others who support the Kyiv government. With the latter, everything is pretty clear: they can only be under more or less pressure, though amid the war, of course, they are under more.Are they outside of Russia?
Some are in Russia – just recently a group of fighters was detained
on charges of a planned, though a little fantastic-sounding, assassination attempt on Margarita Simonyan, and earlier on Vladimir Solovyov. It sounds a little strange, though on the other hand, the groups are real, these guys are not made up. There are Russian nationalists who are absolutely and seriously opposed to the Russian authorities. Some of them, of course, are abroad, but some are here. We cannot estimate how many – probably not many, for obvious reasons. And amid the war it is quite clear that the state has no qualms about how to deal with them.
But an interesting picture has been observed with the nationalists who support the authorities. For a year and a half, they were not subjected to any persecution. They could, like the very Strelkov
, revile the authorities as much as they wanted, and they got away with it. The only, important condition was that there should be no street rallies. You can gather at conferences, you can found the Angry Patriots Club
, but you cannot be active on the street. This important restriction was necessary so that they could not involve the wider public in their activities.But still, Strelkov and some of his associates have a rather large audience on social networks, hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
Experience has shown that agitating on the internet by itself cannot give rise to any significant political phenomenon. An interesting question is why nothing was done with them for a year and a half. But now Strelkov was picked up and arrested. I think