By Paul Goble
Moscow prosecutors have refused a call by Russian human rights activists to ban as extremist the notorious anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a work that inspired Adolf Hitler and that now is attracting a large audience in Russia, a country that “is proud it defeated fascism.”
Responding to a call by the For Human Rights Movement for banning this openly anti-Semitic work, the prosecutors explained their decision not to do so by referring to a “psycho-linguistic” analysis conducted by the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (www.vestnikcivitas.ru/pbls/1354).
According to the prosecutors, the Institute’s analysis concluded that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” “has critical historical-educaitonal and political-enlightenment importance. Information about calls to action against other nationalities and religious groups is lacking in the book.”
In reporting what he called “this shameful event for Russia,” Vadim Belotserkovsky said that the decision of the prosecutors not to find this forgery extremist “testifies to the success” of organized fascism in Russia and especially to the continuing impact on official thinking of the December 11 Manezh Square protests.
“For the first time in the history of [Russia],” he writes, “skinheads at the walls of the Kremlin and alongside the grave of the unknown soldier should ‘Zieg Heil,’ gave Nazi solutes and beat passersby who appeared to be ‘non-Russian types.’ From 5,000 to 10,000 young fascists assembled on that day in the Manezh Square.”
Belotserkovsky focuses his essay on when and why what he calls “organized fascism” emerged in Russia. He dates the emergence of this phenomenon to late 1981 when the Soviet authorities fearful that the ideas of cooperative socialism being put forward by the Polish Solidarity movement might spread to the Soviet Union and undermine their power.
On November 18th of that year, KGB head Yury Andropov who would soon succeed Leonid Brezhnev as CPSU leader gave an interview to the BBC in which he said thzat “deeply alien to us is this treatment of self-administration which draws toward anarcho-syndicalism, to the splitting apart of society into independent and competing corporations, toward democracy without discipline, to an understanding of rights without responsibilities.”
The Soviet media did not publish this interview or provide any reliable information on what Solidarity wanted. Instead, its outlets talked about Solidarity as a conspiracy of the CIA and the Zionists and sought to divide Solidarity by promoting the Grunwald Group which called for a truly Polish approach.
At approximately the same time, the Pamyat’ Patriotic Society was set up in Russia which spoke out against the role of Jews in the USSR. In all likelihood, Belotserkovsky says, both the Grunwald Group and Pamyat were the offspring of ideas hatched in the CPSU Central Committee apparatus.
After Solidarity was suppressed, Pamyat went into a period of quiescence but “in this way in 1981 in Soviet Russia was established the first fascist organization” in the USSR. And it continued to be kept as a possible ally of the powers in the event that a serious working class movement should emerge and spark a revolution in Russia.
“But alas,” Belotserkovsky says, “such a revolution did not take place in Russia.” Worse, the leader of post-Soviet Russia was a member of the old nomenklatura, Boris Yeltsin. And consequently, it is not surprising that “already being the head of Moscow, [Yeltsin] invided to the Moscow City Soviet the leaders of Pamyat.
As Yeltsin’s supporters note, the future president condemned the Pamyat people for their “anti-party slogans.” But Belotserkovsky says, Yeltsin did not say anything about their “anti-Semitic slogans.” He subsequently made use of Pamyat against his opponents and allowed or sponsored the emergence of the even more radical group, Russian National Unity (RNE).
Yeltsin’s war against Chechnya, Belotserkovsky continues, by its cruelty and viciousness trained an entire generation of young men who were willing to listen to fascist sloganeering and in some cases to engage in fascist-style racist violence and murder. And not surprisingly, Pamyat figured in these organizations and was on the Manezh Square.
Pamyat, Russia’s first fascist organization, Belotserkovsky says, was created to oppose Polish solidarist ideas. Now, it is being employed by the powers that be because of their fears that Russia is withering away because of falling population. But the powers will learn that “fascism will not help them” in this area.
Instead, its appearance reflects “the agony” that Russia has already entered into and intensifies that development, trends that themselves are the product of “the fear of the powers before progress,” just as the fear of social progress in Western Europe led to the rise of fascism 90 years ago. Europe has moved on, but “Russia is marching in the same place.”
About the author: Paul Goble
Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .