Right-wing radicals and neo-fascists have become more powerful in Russia over the past few years. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the new, aggressively anti-communist government of Boris Yeltsin overthrew the weak social-democratic government of Mikhail Gorbachev, and two right-wing Russian structures merged. The émigré anti-communists, who had been nurtured by the CIA and were allied with governmental and private entities, openly joined the domestic anti-communist underground “grey zone” or “samizdat” structures.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and NATO moved aggressively against Russian western and southern military fronts. As a defense to this massive onslaught, Russian authorities mobilized the population around a patriotic platform which provided opportunities for numerous groups of nationalist crypto-fascists and religious fundamentalists to penetrate the ranks and leadership of the patriotic consensus.
Many of these right-wing elements and their antecedents, like the National Alliance of Russian Solidarists (NTS) and factions of the Russian Orthodox Church, had been nurtured by western secret services and related rightist, fascist, and neo-Nazi movements during the period after World War II. These right-wing movements are today attempting to push Vladimir Putin’s government to the right and are preparing to take over if the current Russian administration becomes weaker.
External reciprocal manifestations of the emergent Right in Russia are evident in the financial and propaganda support given the Western right-wing campaigns of Marine Le Pen in France and Salvini’s League in Italy, the AfD in Germany, and Donald Trump in the U.S., although the ultimate efficacy of this support is difficult to measure.
This first Moscow dispatch begins with a series of profiles of the emerging right-wing forces in Russia with introductions to three leading figures: Konstantin Malofeev, Leonid Reshetnikov, and Aleksandr Dugin.
Leading Three Figures
Today, the most public sponsor of Russian neo-fascists is the so called “Orthodox oligarch” Konstantin Malofeev. Closely linked to corrupt officials, he made a fortune on dubious telecommunications deals. While all of Malofeev’s activities are accompanied by constant corruption scandals, this however does not prevent him from claiming to be a “patriot.”
Malofeev invests millions of dollars of dirty money in propaganda projects such as the Tsargrad TV channel. There he zombifies Russian viewers, spreading religious obscurantism, xenophobia, and hatred of democracy and human rights. It was Malofeev who became the main sponsor of the ultra-right militants’ operatives in Southeast Ukraine.
Being the “Orthodox oligarch,” Malofeev of course has close ties to the most conservative part of the Russian Orthodox Church. He supports the heretical cult of “Tsarebozhniki,” which actually equates the last Czar Nicholas II with Christ.
Malofeev has tried several times to get into public politics and become a member of parliament, but due to the efforts of the sane factions of Russian power, he has so far been stopped. However, now he has joined efforts with those of Vladislav Surkov—formerly “the gray eminence” of the Kremlin administration, an astute groomer and operator of radical forces in Russia.
A very close associate of Malofeev is Lt. General Leonid Reshetnikov, the former head of the Analysis and Information department of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), originally the First Chief Directorate of the KGB. As a KGB officer, he served in Bulgaria. There Reshetnikov got acquainted with the remains of the post-1920s Civil War “White” emigration and the National Alliance of Russian Solidarists (NTS, an emigrant neo-fascist organization). NTS was connected to the CIA during the Cold War and through it the American intelligence services recruited supporters in the USSR. Reshetnikov, who by the 1970s was already imbued with hatred toward the Soviet system, became a religious fanatic and monarchist.
After leaving the security services in 2009, Reshetnikov (until January 4, 2017) headed the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI), a think-tank attached to and funded by the President’s Administration. He turned this solid institution into a center for conspiracy historians, crypto fascists and religious fanatics. At the same time, his Institute supplied the Kremlin with poor quality analysis and ignored U.S. penetration into the post-Soviet space.
Fired from RISI, Reshetnikov became Malofeev’s loyal ally. Together, they created the Two-Headed Eagle Society. This organization has branches in more than 60 regions of Russia and is systematically engaged in the propagation of religious fanaticism and “tsarebozhia.” Next to it, there are paramilitary organizations such as the Forty Forties (Сорок Сороков, СС for short), which consists of ultra-right militants, often armed.
Both Malofeev and Reshetnikov have recently emerged in important positions in a major initiative of the Russian Orthodox Church, the World Russian People’s Council (Всемирный Русский Народный Собор).
Another of Malofeev’s closest associates and former chief editor of Malofeev’s Tsargrad TV channel is Aleksandr Dugin. He is known in the West as a “Neo-Fascist philosopher” and a translator of Martin Heidegger and Julius Evola into Russian.
In his youth, Dugin was a member of the “Yuzhinsky circle” created by neofascist writers Yuri Mamleev and Evgeny Golovin. In the 1990s, Dugin was an open neo-fascist. He established close contacts with notorious European neo-Nazis Jean Thiriart, Alain de Benoit and Claudio Mutti.
Dugin later masqueraded his outright neo-fascism into an “Orthodox neo-Eurasian theory.” It was only a tactical move. It was Dugin who helped Malofeev establish ties with the European fascist underground. In 2014, they organized a meeting of the European “Black International” in Vienna.
The meeting took place behind closed doors in the Liechtenstein Palace. Among the participants were the National Front deputy Marion Marechal-Le Pen; Spain’s Prince Sixtus-Henrik of Bourbon Parma; Serge von der Pahlen, a member of the board of Maloveev’s St. Basil’s Foundation, director of a Geneva financial company and spouse of Fiat heiress Margherita Agnelli; Heinz Christian Strache, who was until May 2019 Chairman of the Austrian Freedom Party and Vice Chancellor of Austria. At the meeting, nationalists and Christian fundamentalists from Russia and Western countries discussed how Europe could be saved from liberalism and the “satanic gay lobby.”
At present, Dugin is still the key ideologist and liaison to the West for the neo-fascists in Russia. His newest “import” to Russia is the ideology of “indentitarism” including Canadian crypto fascist Jordan Peterson, who was recently being treated for drug addiction in Russia.
Groups of Russian neo-fascists and far-right radicals in Russia are diverse. They are little known to Western readers. But their influence is growing.
 A future dispatch will discuss Surkov in more detail.
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About the Author
Yaroslav Lebedev lives in St. Petersburg and is a researcher of contemporary far-right movements, neo-eurasionism and the monarchist underground in the former Soviet Union.