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Fascism Gets Boost from Communists
The resolute refusal by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) faction of the Russian State Duma to condemn, even mildly, the anti-Semitic comments of its member, Albert Makashov, surprised many analysts and political scientists in Russia, and even more so in the West: The legend they had created about the nature and place of the CPRF and its leader, Gennadi Zyuganov, in the political system of modern-day Russia has begun to show cracks. These fissures are most visible in such sensitive areas as fascism, Nazism and anti-Semitism.
The essence of their reasoning goes like this: There is a very bad Yel'tsin regime. The opposition, headed by Gennadi Zyuganov and the CPRF, calls itself "Communist." The label, most likely, is simply a tribute to tradition. When he visits the West, Zyuganov promises to retain all forms of private property if he comes to power. That means Zyuganov is not really a Communist anymore! Who is he? Why, a Social Democrat of course! What else can a former Communist be at the end of the 20th century? He plays by the rules of a civilized society; he is within the system. Consequently it should be possible to cooperate with him and his party, for instance in the context of the struggle with such alarming issues as the increase in the number of fascist organizations, as well as the growth of xenophobia, racism, and inter-ethnic strife. The Social Democrats have always been the enemies of the Nazis, therefore, Zyuganov's party, having evolved from communism to social democracy, can thwart the danger of fascism in Russia.
That is the wild, and unrealistic notion which, sadly, still has many adherents. This should not be surprising, for as one of the classic authors of National-Socialist propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, once said: "The bigger the lie, the more it is believed." Still these reflections contain one grain of truth: The CPRF is not really a communist party, and Zyuganov is not really a Communist. That much is true.
In his book Beyond the Horizon (Za Gorizontom), Zyuganov praises Stalin for his "radical revision of the state ideology of the Soviet Union in the years 1944 to 1953."(2) Stalin was recreating the nationalist-patriotic ideology, according to Zyuganov, and "lacked five or seven years of his life to make his 'ideological perestroika' irreversible." Zyuganov prefers the Stalin of the period when international affairs became secondary, the struggles against the "doctors-poisoners" and the "rootless cosmopolitans" took center stage and anti-Semitism became official policy. Adopting a very cynical tone, Zyuganov has belittled accounts of Soviet terror and repression. "Some say that Communists, at some point, killed someone or another, or something," he told a television audience.(3)
Stalin's "successors didn't even wait for the body to cool in the mausoleum to reverse his ideological course. The 'civilized' West applauded this maneuver but kept quiet about how much of the work that went into it was performed by its politicians, diplomats, special services, and agents of influence,"(4) according to Zyuganov. This suggests that Khrushchev's secret speech at the 20th CPSU Congress, "Concerning the cult of personality of Stalin," was instigated by the CIA.
The following represents Zyuganov's view of the contemporary international situation: "The worldview, culture and ideology of the western world is perceptibly and increasingly affected by the Jewish dispersion, the influence of which increases, not by the day but by the hour.... The Jewish Diaspora holds the controlling shares of the entire economic system of western civilization...." In these conditions, "Russia becomes the last bulwark against western hegemony...."(5)
So... Stalin was good, the West is controlled by the Jews, and anything western is Russia's primary and fearsome enemy. Such beliefs are hardly indicative of social democracy. These are not controversial indiscretions misspoken in a heated debate; these are excerpts from Zyuganov's publications.
Zyuganov's personal friend, Aleksandr Uvarov, deputy leader of the apparat of the CPRF faction in the RF Duma, recently published a book titled The Russian National Self-awareness. From this work we learn that: "The Second World War, as is now obvious, was provoked and organized by the Zionists."(6)
The draft federal law "Concerning the prohibition of fascist symbols and literature," proposed by the RF Ministry of Justice, expressly forbids "the creation, distribution, or exhibition of fascist symbols, literature... promoting Nazism...." Victor Ilyukhin, the chairman of the Duma security committee and a senior member of the CPRF, explained his opposition to the statute: "Symbols stem from ancient religions and accompany the society and its culture through the different stages of development. Therefore, banning one system of symbols or another is an element of cultural genocide of a society or of one of its groups. Statutes 1 and 2 of the proposed legislature aim to prohibit the symbolism which has accompanied the cultures of many peoples of Eurasia, and which is still present in Russian art."
The draft of the statute reads "...Nazi symbolism includes flags, badges, uniform attributes, or greetings that recreate in any fashion or form the symbols used by the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany and the Fascist Party of Italy: swastikas, fascias, greeting gestures." Ilyukhin parries: "Demands to ban the various of expressions of a symbolic system are absurd."(7) So speak the Communists.
The CPRF faction of the State Duma, in full accord with Vladimir Zhirinovsky's followers, blocks from year to year all legislation aimed against Nazism, fascism and extremism. A year ago, the author of this article proposed legislation which would have penalized those who publicly endorse Nazi crimes. The draft law resembled the German law which had caused so much trouble for the leader of the French "Ultras," the European Parliament deputy Jean-Marie Le Pen. Naturally, the Communists unanimously rejected the draft, which commanded support only from deputies of YABLOKO and Russia's Democratic Choice.
On what basis do the Communists oppose such legislation? "The law pushes the country onto a very dangerous route, to a struggle with nonconformism.... And what is really so bad about the nationalist-socialist ideas? Ideas cannot be banned!"(8) argued Nikolai Ryzhkov, former prime minister of the USSR and currently a Duma deputy and co-chairman of the Popular Patriotic Union. With the Communist blessings, one can praise Hitler with impunity, or claim that there was no genocide, no gas chambers.
Articles by a US resident, Valentin Prussakov, appear regularly in the pages of communist newspapers, including Pravda. A significant portion of Prussakov's writing is dedicated to denying the Holocaust, and to claiming that responsibility for the establishment of the Hitler regime in Germany resides primarily with... the Jews.(9) It is hardly surprising, then, that for a long time now no mass action by the Communists has occurred without anti-Semitic slogans and the sale of certain "classic" literature ranging from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to Adolph Hitler's Mein Kampf. Actually, the most popular place in Moscow for the sale of Nazi literature and propaganda videos is the square in front of the Lenin museum.
Zyuganov is, in addition to everything else, a
leader of the Peoples Patriotic Union of Russia (NPSR), a structure in which
the CPRF plays a primary role. Vladimir Miloserdov, the chairman of the
Russian Party, serves also as chairman of the control commission of the
NPSR. The program of the Russian Party states:
That is the "theoretical" side of the Russian Party, but its practical achievements are no less odious. In Saint Petersburg the Russian Party created the militarized "Russian Guards" comprised of former mercenaries and volunteers for the military actions in Abkhazia, Transdniestr, Yugoslavia, and Chechnya, as well as of former members of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and other special services. Four years ago, the chairman of the Saint Petersburg sector of the Russian Party, Nikolai Bondarik, was arrested for the murder of his predecessor, Vladimir Tsikarev. Since roughly the same time, Yuri Kudimov, a leader of the security service of the Saint Petersburg sector of the Russian Party, has been on the run because he too is accused of serious crimes. Members of the Russian Party and Russian Guards have participated more than once in armed attacks on commercial structures and have openly practiced racketeering. One member was arrested for assault with a firearm. The 1995 list of Duma candidates from the Russian Party included: N. Tokmantzev, who was twice tried for burglary and robbery; Yu. Zhivnyarov, who reportedly manages mafia assets and provides for the needs of gang members in and out of prison; and Yu. Tishenkov, a recidivist nicknamed "Ganz," who has been tried five times and is presently imprisoned for having organized four assassinations. This group is allied with the CPRF through joint membership in the NPSR.
Other parties of that ilk are also infiltrating government administrations. Although Zyuganov has denounced Aleksandr Barkashov's "Russian National Unity" (RNE), in those regions where Communist governors are in power local divisions of the RNE are almost a part of the government structure, and some practically have budget financing. In Krasnodarsk and Stavropolsk krais, the intertwining of government structures (especially law enforcement bodies) with the RNE reached such a high degree that the presidential administration carried out inspections. In the Krasnodarsk krai, under the Communist Governor Nikolai Kondratenko (who became notorious in 1990 for being one of the first to cultivate in the press the infamous forgery, The catechism of a Jew in the USSR, a sort of updated version of the Protocol of the Elders of Zion), anti-Semitism became part of the regional government ideology. During the latest elections to the Krasnodarsk krai legislature, 80 percent of the winners used slogans that were in general clearly xenophobic, and in particular anti-Semitic. Recently a young woman was expelled from the university in the city of Krasnodar because she dared to call the local RNE members who guard the university "fascists."
A recent report documented several cases where the RNE has grown indistinguishable from the local police force. In Kostroma the police and a local volunteer detachment which includes RNE members jointly hold target practice and guard the city markets. Similarly, in Yaroslavl, the "RNE officially, on par with the police, maintains order in the outdoor markets." In Voronezh, guards wearing swastikas appeared in the dormitories of the Agricultural University; joint RNE-police street patrols have a sound legal basis. "Moreover, there are Nazis in the employ of Voronezh law enforcement agencies, thirty of which have the authority to issue weapons to their staff."(11)
Clearly, then, such sentiments as fascism and anti-Semitism are growing in Russia. So why doesn't Zyuganov admonish Makashov for his anti-Semitic remarks? First of all, because he shares Makashov's view, but more importantly, because the Communist voter -- who for the past few years has been nurtured on xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and other base instincts -- would construe that to be a sign of weakness and abandon Zyuganov in favor of an even more "radical" figure like Viktor Anpilov. Zyuganov has to tolerate Makashov because the CPRF has for a long time followed, not the ideas of communism and socialism, but ideas of national-socialism. The instance with Makashov only revealed the red-brown symbiosis to a greater degree than was visible earlier. Of course the red-brown coalition has been in place for a long time. The Moscow Antifascism Center has issued repeated warnings about the danger it poses to society. Should such a party come to power it will try to realize its program with all the attendant human suffering and social chaos. This increasingly likely turn of events would have terrible international ramifications: Aside from the tide of refugees from Russia and the NIS, it is easy to imagine a revanchist Russia sponsoring dictatorships in the entire post-Soviet space and unleashing conflicts.
(1) Since its formation in 1997, Mr. Proshechkin has been a member of the president's commission on political extremism. He is author of the term "red-brown."
(2) Gennadi Zyuganov, Beyond the Horizon (Orel: Veshie Vody, 1995), p. 49.
(3) As cited in Argumenty i fakty, No. 21 (May 1996), p. 2.
(4) Op.cit., p. 51.
(5) Ibid., p. 18.
(6) Aleksandr Uvarov, The Russian National Self-awareness (Moscow: Contemporary View, 1998), p. 44.
(7) The full text of Ilyukhin's remarks was published in the newspaper I'm Russian under the headline "Ilyukhin defends the swastika" (No. 23, 1999), p. 2. I'm Russian is the official paper of the openly nationalist-socialist People's Nationalist Party (Narodnaya Natsional'naya Partiya) whose leader, Ivanov-Syharevsky, is currently under arrest, charged with inciting nationalist strife.
(8) Bulletin of the State Duma of the Russian
Federation, No. 128 (270), 1997, p. 57.
(9) "Jews at the source of Nazism," Pravda-5,
January 1997, p. 3.
(10) See the collection, Political Extremism
in Russia (Moscow: Institute of Experimental Sociology, 1996), p. 157.
(11) Analytical Bulletin No. 7 (Moscow:
Antifascist Public Organization, July 1998), pp. 29-30.
Unless otherwise indicated, all articles appearing in this journal have been commissioned especially