Moscow’s Ideologist-in-Chief

Andreas Umland, on the rise and rise of Ivan Demidov, the Kremlin’s new ideologist:

Demidov has professed to be under the influence of a particularly extreme brand of Russian imperialism known under the label of “neo-Eurasianism.” This ideology has been principally developed, in hundreds of articles and books, by the neo-fascist Russian theoretician Alexander Dugin (b. 1962), and constitutes perhaps the most radical anti-democratic ideology that has gained acceptance within Russia’s political establishment today. In a November 2007 interview for Dugin’s website Evrazia.org, Demidov stated that “doubtlessly, a crucial factor, a certain breaking point, in my life, was the appearance of Alexander Dugin.” The two men have been cooperating for a while now within Demidov’s “Spas” TV channel where Dugin has his own show called “Vekhi” (signposts). To be sure, Demidov has repeatedly stated that his various patriotic propaganda projects are designed to deprive russophile ultra-nationalists of their control of the nationalist agenda and thus aim to fight the increase of xenophobia and hate crimes, in Russia. He announced that “the words ‘Russian’ and ‘fascism’ are antonyms,” and that he and his associates will “fight against the infusion of the term ‘Russian fascism’ into mass consciousness.”

However, in 2007, Demidov, with explicit reference to Dugin, also acknowledged to be a “convinced Eurasian.” This is oddly the same phrase that Dugin had used 15 years earlier to describe the political beliefs of Reinhard Heydrich (1904-1942), the infamous chief of the SS Security Service and one of the planners of the Holocaust. Dugin sees his Eurasian movement as the follower of a secret “Eurasian Order” that existed for centuries, and included, among others, various German ultra-nationalists. While, at times, strongly distancing himself from Hitler’s crimes, Dugin has, throughout the 1990s, repeatedly expressed his admiration for certain aspects of the Nazi movement. For instance, he called the theory sector of the Waffen-SS an “intellectual oasis” within the Third Reich, and admitted that National Socialism was “the fullest and most total realization” of the Third Way that Dugin advocates until today. In one of his numerous pro-fascist articles of the 1990s, Dugin gets excited about the prospect that, after the failures of Germany and Italy, there will, in Russia today, finally emerge a truly “fascist fascism.” In the new century, to be sure, Dugin’s rhetoric has become more cautious. Now a frequent political commentator on various TV shows, he often poses as an “anti-fascist” and describes himself as a “radical centrist.” Dugin tries to draw a line between the inter-war right-wing intellectuals whom he admires and those who supported Hitler. Yet, as late as 2006, Dugin admitted that among his models are the ultra-nationalist German brothers Otto and Gregor Strasser who got into personal conflicts with Hitler in the early 1930s, yet had also played a crucial role in making the NSDAP a mass party in the 1920s. In March 2008, his WWW site Evrazia.org confirmed that Dugin has still sympathies for the Strasser brothers.

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