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Patriotism Against Nationalism What Protest on November 4th was the Most Patriotic?

No kind of day of peoples unity and agreement came out of November 4th. Instead of the convergence of people in a united patriotic impulse, something much more interesting occurred: a bitter polemic splashed out on the streets of Russian towns on the question of what kind of patriotism Russia needs.

Not wishing to avoid this polemic, I completely consciously chose the protest which better expressed my position: the protest of the anti-fascist front at Bolotnaya Square.

Yes, I thought and continue to think that the organizers of the professed Russian March had the constitutional right to carry it out, since they were obligated to suppress any extremes of Nazi sentiment. The duty of the authorities was not only to institute criminal proceedings against people who were guilty of such extremes, but also to protect the constitutional rights of citizens to carry out peaceful processions.

All this does not mean, however, that I somehow share the ideas of the Russian March. In contrast, I consider these ideas to be extremely dangerous for Russia, which is what I spoke about during my appearance at Bolotnaya Square.

Even if Russian nationalism differs from the more radical of its representatives and manifestations, fascism and Nazism, it nevertheless remains an ideology which is exclusively dangerous for Russia. Why? The answer to this question is evident in the extreme: Russia is a multiethnic, multicultural country. For many, to be sure, this will sound banal. The present danger consists exactly in the fact that under the influence of a growing nationalistic frenzy, people are beginning to forget about the exceptionally important banalities.

Meanwhile, history does not exhaust itself from confirming these banalities with newer and newer examples. When Milosevic came to power in 1989, Yugoslavia was a flourishing European country. Through his policies, however, this leader directed a successive line of Serbian nationalism. The results were a bloody interethnic war, the complete collapse of Yugoslavia, and the disintegration of Serbia, from which Kosovo was virtually already separated from. Exactly the same processes occurred in the post-Soviet sphere; specifically, the nationalism of the dominant ethnos left Georgia without Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Moldavia without Transnistria (Pridnestrovie) and Azerbaijan without Nagorno-Karabakh.

Multiethnic Russia avoided all this, in many respects, because in this period, the leadership of the country did not harbor nationalistic complexes and emotions.

Today, the country has neared a facet with which these circumstances can be changed, and the issue is not only seen in the relentless establishment of nationalistic groups, but also in a transformation in the mechanisms of the authority itself, which recently began to examine nationalism as a ideological resource. Symptoms of this are the anti-Georgian campaign, calls to the president for observing human rights and using the preferred thesis of nationalists about attempts at discrimination and humiliation of Russia by other countries.

Giving itself up to nationalistic hysterics, the central authority sends powerful signals to the population which are, in turn, answered by the surfacing of a complex of national inferiority. On this terrain, society is much more receptive to more radical propaganda.

It would be desirable to use conspiracies with the goal of inciting the nationalism of certain powers which attempt to destroy Russia from outside. But no: the experience of the aforementioned countries show that the source of destruction is always found within, and consists either in the incapacity of authorities to oppose the base sentiments of the masses, or in the cynical manipulation of these emotions.

Can such strength keep Russia from the Yugoslav prospect? Strangely enough, this date alone is helpful. On November, 4th, 1612, civil society rescued the country from turmoil.

And today, the part of civil society which is not afraid to lift a banner of true Russian patriotism rejects any version of xenophobia, including Russian nationalism, as a phenomenon undermining Russian multiethnic unity.

I truly believe that it was present successors of Minin and Pozharsky who gathered on November, 4 at Bolotnaya Square.

Sergey Mitrokhin

Source: Newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets"


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