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The Strange Alliance between Ukrainian “Progressive Socialism” and Russian “Neo-Eurasianism”

One of the worrying results of the March 2006 elections to the Ukrainian parliament, Verkhovna Rada, was that the so-called “Popular Opposition” bloc led by the head of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, Natal’ya Mikhailovna Vitrenko (b. 1951), managed to come close to passing the 3% barrier (with 2.93% of the official turnout) and thus almost entered the Rada. Vitrenko is the premier representative of radical anti-Westernism in Ukraine; she has also made herself known with her frequent invectives against Ukrainian politicians whom she does not hesitate to call “natsisty” (Nazis). Both of these circumstances are ironic in as far as Vitrenko has been for some time officially allied to a well-known Russian propagator of the West’s worst invention: fascism.

Vitrenko, along with former UNA-UNSO and current “Bratstvo” leader Dmitro Korchinski, entered in 2004, and is now listed in the directory of members of, the Highest Council of the International Eurasian Movement (see here, 31st March 2006). There was also an announcement in 2005 that Vitrenko and Korchinski were going to enter the Highest Council of the Eurasian Youth Movement (here, 31st March 2006), the International Eurasian Movement’s youth section with branches in, among other countries, Ukraine. Both of these organizations, the International Eurasian Movement and Eurasian Youth Movement, have been created by, and are entirely devoted to the ideas of, a certain Aleksandr Gel'evich Dugin (b. 1962). Dugin has become famous in Russia during the last years and is more and more present in Russian mass media, but has not (yet) been broadly noted in Ukraine. He has, in Putin’s Russia, made himself known as a “neo-Eurasianist” and fanatic anti-American. Dugin also occasionally describes himself as a “national bolshevist,” “traditionalist,” “conservative revolutionary” or “Guenonist” (with reference to the founder of West European “Traditionalism,” Rene Guenon). As the latter terms indicate, Dugin’s world-view is not only determined by indigenous Eastern Slavic ideas. Rather his ideology is, to a large degree, a variation of a number of ideas that had their origins in pre-war Western Europe. While Dugin poses as a radical anti-Westerner, his major concepts, in fact, are derived from Western theories. That Vitrenko has entered the ruling body of an organization fundamentally inspired by non-Slavic (and, sometimes, even anti-Slavic) Western sources might make Slavic anti-Westerners think.

There is more. In spite of his dubious sources, Dugin finds himself today in the company of a whole number of highly placed Russian political and social figures such as Minister of Culture Sokolov, Federation Council Deputy Speaker Torshin or Presidential Aide Aslakhanov who, like Vitrenko, Korchinskii and other post-Soviet figures, have entered the International Eurasian Movement’s Highest Council. This circumstance makes it even more intriguing that, in the past, Dugin has made many, to say the least, unorthodox statements on world history. In particular, Dugin gave some unusual assessments of West European fascism. To be sure, Dugin has harshly criticized German, Italian and other fascisms, for instance, in his article “Fascism — red and borderless” which is a chapter of his book Tampliery Proletariata (The Knight Templars of the Proletariat, Moscow: Arktogeya, 1997). Yet, what Dugin blamed the fascist regimes and parties of inter-war Europe for was that they were too moderate, too incoherent, too soft, and not truly revolutionary. Fascism, such seems Dugin’s view, is, in principle, an excellent idea. Unfortunately, in Dugin’s opinion, it has, however, never been consistently implemented. That shall be different after the break-up of the Soviet Union. In Russia today, finally, there will emerge a truly “fascist fascism.” (For further amplification of this thesis, see the appendix below.) In previous books published in the early 1990s, Dugin had already elaborated why exactly he thinks fascism is a good idea, the SS was an organization with positive characteristics, the break-up of the 1939 alliance between Hitler and Stalin constituted an unfortunate event, etc. See for instance his essay collections Konspirologiya (Conspirology, Moscow: Arktogeya, 1992) and Konservativnaya revolyutsiya (The Conservative Revolution, Moscow: Arktogeya, 1994).

That Vitrenko has used terms like “Nazi” or “fascist” with a seemingly negative connotation is only to be welcomed. However, Vitrenko might, perhaps, before using liberally these for labeling her political opponents, first check whether her own close political allies fall under these categories. As far as Dugin is concerned, Vitrenko has, by entering the International Eurasian Movement’s Highest Council, it appears, officially accepted intellectual leadership from somebody who has not hesitated to formulate repeatedly and explicitly a deep attraction to fascism.

A final note on Dugin might be worth adding in view of Vitrenko’s recent frequent posing as a Ukrainian patriot. Dugin is not only notorious for his debt to Western radical anti-democratic ideas. He has, furthermore, made himself known by statements on the future of Ukraine not less extravagant than his statements on fascism. In his major book Osnovy geopolitiki (Foundations of Geopolitics, 4th edn. Moscow: Arktogeya, 2000), Dugin, for instance, writes that “[t]he sovereignty of Ukraine represents such a negative phenomenon for Russian geopolitics that it can, in principle, easily provoke a military conflict.” (p. 348). Apart from a other similar statements about Ukraine as a whole (Malorossiya and Okraina, p. 799), he, in “Osnovy geopolitiki,” noted, with reference to Southern Ukraine, that “[a]n absolute imperative of Russian geopolitics on the Black Sea shores is the total and unlimited control by Moscow of [these shores] over their whole stretch – from the Ukrainian to the Abkhaz territory” (p. 349). Similar sentences can be found in “Osnovy geopolitiki and other publications by Dugin.

In view of the above and many comparable statements, it is bizarre that Dugin has managed to link himself institutionally to a whole number of top actors of the government, parliament, mass media, and civil society of Russia – a country that defines itself, even more than Ukraine, by its victory over fascism, is proud of its anti-fascist credentials, and claims to have brotherly feelings for Ukraine. What would be equally ironic is that, if Vitrenko is successful in her plan to force herself into the Verkhovna Rada through a re-count, a Russian imperialist grouping, the International Eurasian Movement, led by a sworn enemy of Ukrainian independence and fanatic apologist of fascism would acquire an official representative in the Ukrainian parliament.