Russia is the largest country in the world and the most populous country in Europe, which was formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Therefore, many processes in Russia are explained by the peculiarities of the transition to a capitalist economy and the formation of a post-socialist society.
Ukraine has since February 24th, 2022 been under siege. Due to the conditions of war resulting from the Russian invasion, we cannot at this time provide accurately validated and verified data and information on the current situation in neither Ukraine nor Russia.
The Russian regime is through warfare, crackdowns and legislation suppressing all independent and free media in both countries, this affects reporting by local and foreign journalists. The general media coverage is contaminated with propaganda.
As a result of this, we ask visitors to this site to be patient as we are steadily trying to provide validated and verifiable information on the war, its background and the role of far-right actors among those fighting in this conflict.
Russia is the largest country in the world and the most populous country in Europe, which was formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Therefore, many processes in Russia are explained by the peculiarities of the transition to a capitalist economy and the formation of a post-socialist society. After the period of wild capitalism of the 1990s and the rule of President Boris Yeltsin, his successor Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, and in 2001, the ruling United Russia party was formed. The party still holds a majority in parliament, providing the president with a stable vertical of power up to this day. Russia combines elements of a democratic political system with authoritarian institutions and methods of governance.
The main problem for Russians is poverty and monstrous income inequality, the powerlessness of citizens and the omnipotence of the elite, the police state and legal nihilism, the ongoing deconstruction of the social state, and the privatization of the economy. According to Rosstat, in 2019, the average per capita income of Russians was 35,247 rubles per month ($470), the median average per capita income was 26,363 rubles per month ($352), and the minimum cost of living over the same period was 10,890 rubles ($145). Russia leads the world in income inequality (500 super-rich wealthier than 99.8%), is one of the top three in suicides rate, and unhappiness level. The coronavirus epidemic has only exacerbated these problems.
Russia occupies most of Eurasia and shares a border with eighteen countries. Its special geopolitical position in the world allows researchers to describe Russia as a peripheral empire. Russia under Putin pretends to be a leader in Eurasia, is friends with China and Central Asian countries, maintains relations with North Korea, and opposes NATO countries. Russia’s most tense situation is in relations with Ukraine (the 2014 war and the transition of Crimea).
Human rights are not respected in Russia. In 2021 it became widely known about the torture system in prisons for beating out testimony. The government passed a law on foreign agents to put pressure on human rights organizations.
More than 160 nationalities live in the Russian Federation. Over 79% of the population is made up of ethnic Russians. The most acute problem of far-right nationalism is among ethnic Russians which is directed against migration flows from post-Soviet countries and regions of Russia with non-Russian populations, for example, from the North Caucasus republics. At the same time, the nature of migration in Russia differs significantly from migration to Europe, as the post-Soviet space has a unity of language and cultural codes
Status of the far-right in the country
The 2000s in Russia were the heyday of the far-right, but after the events of 2014, there was a split in the movement. Part of the far-right, which can be conventionally called “imperialists”, supported the annexation of Crimea and the war against Ukraine. Radical neo-Nazis supported the “white revolution” in Ukraine and went there to fight against “Putin’s Jewish regime”. Former comrades-in-arms faced each other in the fields of Donbas on both sides of the front.
The police crackdown on the far-right finally destroyed the movement: major organizations were banned and their leaders were arrested. Right-wing in Russia is now a pathetic remnant of their former power. The right-wing in Russia is represented by ultraconservative monarchist organizations, such as Konstantin Malofeev’s “Tsargrad”, which is close to the Kremlin. It opposes LGBT+ and feminism, stirring up anti-migrant hysteria and spreading conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rabid neo-Nazi militants have gone deep underground and moved into open misanthropy, which in the milieu is called “peoplehate” (M.K.U). The far-right now engage in combat training, and their main propaganda resources have shifted to Telegram due to de-platforming tactics. The most prominent among them is the “Male State”, an openly misogynistic far-right community that cyber-bullies feminists and LGBTQ+ supporters.
In 2021, there was a small outburst of far-right revanchism, which can be linked to the start of an anti-migrant campaign in the state media. More hate speech on social media emerged against North Caucasus and Central Asia natives, blacks, Roma, Jews, and gays.
Status of antifascists in the country
The anti-fascist movement in Russia emerged in the mid-noughties as a response to far-right violence and police connivance. The first antifascist groups emerged in punk and skin subculture to protect musical concerts from neo-Nazi attacks. However, when the antifascists began to fight back, the neo-Nazis went from beatings to murders. By the end of the decade, terrorists from the BORN group committed a series of high-profile murders, including the murder of judge Eduard Chuvashov, leaders of anti-fascist movements Fyodor Filatov, Ilya Dzhaparidze and Ivan Khutorskoy, lawyer Stanislav Markelov, and journalist Anastasia Baburova. Journalists have noted the connection between BORN and the Kremlin. On 16 November 2009 the day after Khutorskoy’s murder, antifascists openly smashed up the reception room of Maxim Mischenko, deputy of the State Duma from “United Russia”, who had publicly cooperated with the members of BORN.
In 2010, anti-fascists took part in the campaign to protect the Khimki Forest, after which law enforcement agencies turned to repression. Many activists have been arrested and convicted on trumped-up charges. The most characteristic of the time was the trumped-up case of “Antifa-RASH” which was concocted by operatives of Nizhny Novgorod’s Counter-Extremism (“Center E”) department.
After the events of 2014, the anti-fascist movement, as well as their opponents, went dried up and is now practically silent. In 2020, anti-fascist Alexei “Socrates” Sutuga was killed in a fight. In 2021, only one major event involving an antifascist group was recorded: a brawl in northern Moscow after a far-right concert.
Most Russian anti-fascist resources in Russia are not updated now. One of the remaining projects is the Antifa.ru channel on Telegram.
During the 1990s, dozens of nationalist organizations emerged in Russia, as a right-wing reaction to the collapse of the USSR. The most notable phenomenon among far-right radicals in Russia was the neo-Nazi skinheads, or boneheads – an imported British youth subculture of the 1970s, which began to decline in Western countries. Also in the nineties, Russian neopaganism – Russian Vedism or Rodnoverie – became fashionable among the far-right, which further caused a division between the traditional black-hundredists Orthodox organizations and the Hitlerists, who denied Christianity as a “Jewish faith”
According to rough estimates, the number of boneheads in Russia in the noughties was 50,000 people. Dozens of far-right groups grew into large organizations with branches all over Russia and including thousands of boneheads: National Socialist Society (NSO), Slavic Union (SS), Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), Russian All-National Union (RONS), Russian People’s Movement (ROD), Northern Brotherhood, Eurasian Youth Union (ESM) and many others. All the organizations listed here were banned to this moment except ESM. Their main goal as it was described in the main bonehead book of this time “Skins: Russia Awakens” (2003) was to create a legal party and get involved in mainstream parliamentary politics. The main public action for the far-right in Russia was the annual “Russian March,” which is held on National Unity Day on November 4. After 2016, the action fell into decline, and in 2021 it did not take place at all.
At the grassroots level, the neo-Nazis during the steel noughties started street terror campaigns against migrants from the North Caucasus and Central Asia, blacks, Roma, Jews, and gays – all of whom they considered “an alien element polluting the blood of the white race”. Boneheads are organized into informal groups to commit hate crimes – murders, arsons, bombings, pogroms. The most famous among them was “Mad Crowd” and “Combat Terrorist Organisation” (BTO), “Savior” (SPAS), “Schultz-88”, “Lincoln-88”, “United Brigade-88”, NS/WP, Ryno-Skachevsky gang, NSO-North, “Militant organization of Russian nationalists” (BORN). In total, members of these groups killed more than 100 people and carried out dozens of terrorist attacks. In the public field, their mouthpiece was the leader of the Russian boneheads, Maxim “Tesak” Martsinkevich, who promoted violence through snuff videos on the “Format 18” project website. Tesak’s involvement in real murders, including the notorious “Execution of a Tajik and a Dag” will only become known 14 years later.
The far-right terror reached its peak by the end of the decade. Whereas in 2005 there were 152 murders committed by Nazis, in 2009 there were 548 cases, the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor’s Office calculated. On 11 December 2010 thousands of nationalists and soccer hooligans rioted on Manezhnaya Square in Moscow after the death of Spartak fan Yegor Sviridov, leaving dozens of people injured. The Manezhnaya Square events became a convenient pretext for tightening control over youth movements and defeating far-right organizations. After the 2014 events, the far-right movement was depleted. In 2020 Russian nationalist Konstantin Krylov passed away. In 2020 Maxim “Tesak” Martsinkevich committed suicide in prison, and in 2021 Yegor “Pogrom” Prosvirnin, the nationalists’ chief propagandist jumped naked from a window in a center of Moscow.
United Russia has established ties with far-right parties in Europe: the Freedom Party of Austria, the Alternative for Germany, and the French National Front of Marine Le Pen. The foreign policy of the Russian far-right takes place against this background.
Russian far-right activists played an important role in the formation of the Azov regiment and the events in Donbas. Some of them – like Sergei “Botsman” Korotkikh – joined the National Corps party, formed on the basis of the Azov movement.
One of the most influential de-anonymized Russian neo-Nazis is Denis “Whiterex” Kapustin who fled to Ukraine. He is the most important link between the neo-Nazis of the ex-USSR and the western countries. He promotes National Socialism under his “White Rex” MMA and clothing brand.
Another important far-right group is the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) which has established ties with European neo-Nazis and provided military training for them. Its militant branch, the Imperial Legion, reportedly has sent fighters to Ukraine, Syria, and Libya. Two members of the Swedish, neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, Viktor Melin, and Anton Thulin, underwent the Partizan military training course run by a RIM before carrying out a series of bomb attacks against refugee centers in Sweden in January 2017. According to media reports, in 2020, extremists who belonged to the youth wings of two German far-right political parties—the National Democratic Party (NPD) and The Third Path—attended Partizan, where they received training in weapons, explosives, and close combat.
In June 2015, the RIM reportedly worked with the Russian political party Rodina to convene the World National-Conservative Movement (WNCM).
Far-right parties are not represented in the Russian parliament and that’s why the far-right doesn’t have its own deputies. The “United Russia” party was formed as a conservative, but its ideology has shifted over time toward centrism. “United Russia” publicly maintains the anti-Nazi rhetoric which uses against Ukraine and western countries.
The far-right movement achieved its greatest electoral success in the 2000s when the Rodina bloc was established in the Duma, and ROS leader Sergei Baburin entered parliament on ROS lists. However, the ideology of Rodina and ROS is often described as a “red-brown” or “red-con(servative)” with its left-wing represented by economist, presidential aide Sergey Glazyev. Orthodox businessman Konstantin Malofeev was supposed to create a new ultra-conservative party on the basis of Rodina in 2019, but negotiations ended up going nowhere,
At the 2021 Duma elections, Rodina has taken only one seat which belongs to its leader Alexey Zhuravlev. One of the founders of Rodina was the leader of Congress of Russian Communities Dmitriy Rogozin who now holds a high position in Russian politics and heads the State Space Corporation Roscosmos. The far-right candidates’ – head of “Society. Future” movement Roman Yuneman, head of the Moscow branch of the Russian All-People’s Union Mikhail Butrimov, and member of “Conservator” Valentina Bobrova – did not succeed in the 2021 elections.
Also during the 2000s different deputies were allegedly linked to neo-Nazis. NSO leader Dmitry Rumyantsev was an assistant to Albert Makashov, a Communist Party of Russia deputy in the Duma. Also, far-right activist Yevgeny Valyaev was an assistant to Duma LDPR deputy Nikolay Kuryanovich. Ilya Goryachev, the BORN ideologue sentenced to life imprisonment, was an assistant to Viktor Vodolatsky, a Duma deputy from the “United Russia”. As it mentioned above Maxim Mischenko, deputy of the State Duma from “United Russia”, had publicly cooperated with the members of BORN.
An article was published in the media that BORN was connected to Kremlin-backed movement “Locals” which consisted of former soccer hooligans – leader of the Lyubertsy branch Leonid Simunin, one of the regional leaders Sergey Nikulkin, president of CSKA Rugby Club Alexey Mitryushin, political consultant, member of the Moscow Public Chamber Pavel Karpov and also high-profile official in charge of youth policy, former member of the Federation Council Nikita Ivanov.
After the police campaign, the far-right are afraid to speak openly, because the articles on extremism are widely applied to them. Most far-right resources have been banned or abandoned, and Nazis have migrated en masse to Telegram as a result of de-platforming.
The largest far-right resource in Telegram is Pozdnyakov’s “Male State“, which presumably works with Russian security forces. Mikhail Svetov, chairman of the “Сivil society” movement and one of the main propagators of right-wing libertarianism in Russia, leads a YouTube channel called “SVTV,” which is widely advertised in the far-right milieu. At the end of 2021 Yegor “Pogrom” Prosvirnin, the nationalists’ chief propagandist, jumped naked from a window in the center of Moscow. His project Czar.tv status is unclear.
The official ultra-conservative media in Russia are the “Tsargrad” group and its associated online resources. “Tsargrad TV” was created exactly according to the canons of the American conservative television channel Fox News. From the start, Tsargrad was positioned as a TV channel with “news presented from a Christian point of view”. “Tsargrad” began to spread anti-migrant hysteria and conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic. Other media accused of nationalist rhetoric is online “Readovka” and large yellow newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda”. The KP journalist Dmitry Steshin was a witness in the BORN case. At the trial, BORN leader testified that it was Steshin who put him in touch with the sellers of the weapons from which the BORN group attacks were carried out.
Ultra-conservative media oppose the western countries, which they see as a “den of homosexuality” and “biblical Sodom”. At the same time, the far-right repeats conservative clichés from the West, talking about the Great Replacement, the “White Race Extinction” and the Narrative which is aggressively implemented by leftists, the dominance of feminists who want to destroy the traditional Russian family with the money of “Gayrope”. Russian ultra-conservative media also widely promote “ethnical crime” topics.
The far-right is a convenient tool for political manipulation. Their main asset is violence. The ultra-right were used in their interests by various groups, starting with the best-known neo-Nazi organization Russian National Unity (RNU) in the ’90s. It was turned into a powerful organization, which acted as a scarecrow during necessary moments such as October 1993. But when its leader Alexander Barkashov became independent, RNU was quickly marginalized by secret services. RNU was financed mostly by sympathetic middle-ranking businessmen, members of the organization did not shy away from racketeering and protection of petty traders.
During the investigation of the NSO-North case in 2011 which members committed 30 murders, arms trafficking, explosions, arson, and an attempted terrorist attack at a hydroelectric power plant it was widely known that police found more than 200 million rubles in the accounts of Maxim “Adolf” Bazylev, the chief ideologist of NSO-North. Bazylev and Sergei “Botsman” Korotkikh were involved in some kind of financial scam involving the cashing out of hundreds of millions of rubles. As part of this scam, the NSO received an office and a gym for free, and the society’s activists received money on secret bank cards. The media repeatedly mentioned Maxim Gritsai, a businessman with whom Malyuta and Adolf did business. Some believe that Gritsai was an intermediary between the NSO and the secret services.
It is believed that the “Russian March” and largest nationalist Russian movement in the 2000’s DPNI was funded by the construction business in general and in particular Mirax Group, Rogozin, and oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Nationalists from the Novorossiya project who fought in Donbas were funded by Konstantin Malofeev as part of the deal with state VTB bank. Malofeev was involved in a criminal case about fraud with a loan. By 2015, the amount of debt to VTB had already reached $600 million but the parties signed a settlement agreement. VTB forgave 85% of this amount for helping Donbas, according to Kommersant. Malofeev was put under US sanctions for this.
The sources of funding for the ultra-right in Russia are internal since the Russian security services closely monitor such things.