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How Nationalism Came to Dominate Russia's Political Mainstream

Published: August 4, 2014 (Issue # 1822)



  • Eduard Limonov standing in front of a Strategy-31 banner in March 2010.
    Photo: Ivan Simochkin / Wikicommons

President Vladimir Putin's decision to annex Crimea and his treatment of the eastern Ukrainian insurgency have rallied nationalist support and altered Russia's political landscape, politicians and analysts told The St. Petersburg Times.

The ongoing political crisis between Russia and the West over the armed conflict in Ukraine has pushed nationalist-leaning forces to the forefront of Russia's political agenda. Unlike the liberal opposition, the new nationalist mainstream is fundamentally anti-Western.

This situation has come at the cost of the equilibrium that Putin had masterfully controlled for the past fourteen years, according to Nikolai Petrov, a Russian political analyst with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

"What was previously relegated to the margins of society has become central to Russia's political discourse," Petrov told The St. Petersburg Times.

"Crimea has stirred up nationalist fervor in Russia … but it has also held Putin hostage to one political force over the other. While he was able to adeptly maneuver between political streams in the past, he now faces pressure to adopt a more nationalist stance. This could rob him of his position as the pre-eminent arbiter of the country's political situation," said Petrov.

The St. Petersburg Times spoke with prominent members of various Russian political movements to gauge Russia's changing political atmosphere.

The Other Russia's Eduard Limonov

Dating back just a year, riot police regularly outnumbered the activists present at Strategy-31 rallies staged in Moscow's city center. Strategy-31 is a series of rallies held at the end of each 31-day month. The date was chosen in honor of Article 31 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to hold peaceful public gatherings.

For years, these protests were never sanctioned by official Moscow. Led by Eduard Limonov, former head of the banned National Bolshevik Party and current leader of The Other Russia, the protests were generally dispersed, with dozens of activists detained in the process.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Oct. 20


Amateur pictures from World War I are on display for only one more day at Rosphoto’s exhibition “On Both Sides,” chronicling the conflict through the eyes of observers on both sides of the trenches. The price of entrance to the exhibition is 100 rubles ($2.50).



Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organization’s office.


Take the chance to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Center’s series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this month’s lessons being “visual arts.”



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