The Rest

Dec 7, 2011

In Russia, a bumper season for authoritarian self-sabotage

Russian nationalists have been in the news as of late. And there's the perfect demonstration of the bifurcation of Russian nationalism into its two distinct halves.

Matthew Clayfield

Journalist, critic, screenwriter and playwright

Russian nationalists have been in the news as of late. Early last month, they marched in the Moscow suburb of Lyublino, marking the country’s Day of National Unity with signs at once anti-Kremlin and anti-Semitic. (Organisers claimed there had been 20,000 in attendance. Police and The Moscow Times put the number somewhere at 5000-7000.) A few days later, The Moscow Times reported that Nashi, the pro-Kremlin nationalist youth group, would flood Moscow with 30,000 of its members for an annual conference that began last Sunday, which not so coincidentally happened to be the day of the State Duma elections, too.

The strategy was a familiar one, as well as a cause for concern. When the same group was flooded into Moscow for the legislative elections in 2007, it was to serve as unofficial Kremlin enforcers on the look-out for any signs of colour, revolution or some unholy mixture of the two.

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