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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

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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