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Russia’s Ideologues from the Lunatic Fringe

Dr. Andreas Umland, one of those guys who manages to inspire vitriol as both an apologist and a russophobe, and a column running in the National Interest about anti-Americanism in Russia and how a new Cold War could come about. We happen to disagree with some of his arguments and claims, but he usually is at least interesting to read:

Right now it is unclear how this trend could be reversed or even stopped. The fear is that anti-Western sentiment in Russia may spiral out of the Kremlin’s control. A number of ideologues from the lunatic fringe are already part of Russia’s political establishment. Take Alexander Dugin, a political commentator little known in the West but prominent in Russian public and intellectual life. A rabid anti-American, Dugin openly praised the Third Reich, the SS and fascism in general in the 1990s. Nevertheless, his “International Eurasian Movement” has today among its official members Russia’s minister of culture (Alexander Sokolov), Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council (the upper house of the Russian parliament) Alexander Torshin and presidential advisor Aslambek Aslakhanov. As recently as 2006, Dugin singled out for praise the ideas of Gregor and Otto Strasser— two Germans who helped Hitler build the Nazi party in the 1920s. Yet in spite of such statements Dugin has become a well-respected participant on primetime political talk shows; some of his numerous tomes are used as textbooks in Russian schools and universities. Now Putin’s turn to conspiracy-theorizing has given Dugin and others of his ilk a powerful push: Their ideas have been confirmed by Russia’s most popular man and entered the cultural mainstream. The president has publicly condemned U.S. foreign policy, compared Russia’s liberals to jackals skulking around foreign embassies and warned the West “to keep its nose out” of Russia’s internal affairs. This is pretty much what Moscow’s post-Soviet “ultras” have been saying since the early 1990s. If the popularization of Moscow radicals’ Manichean views continues in Russian society unabated, sooner or later we will find ourselves in another cold war.