Monday, June 09, 2008

OK, I can write this now: Other Russia, Limonov, and the eXile

All being repressed. Other Russia being the opposition that opposes Putin, the only coalition out there that's really doing it, Limonov being one of the two leaders of it, the other being Garry Kasparov, chess champion, and the eXile being a nice alternative English language weekly coming out of Russia. I've known about Limonov opposing Putin for a while now, but haven't written anything acknowledging it because Limonov leads something called the National Bolshevik Party.

They use a flag that incorporates a hammer and sickle into a Nazi flag where the swastika would normally be, and they fit themselves into the European constellation of neo-Fascist New Right parties that advocated the Third Position, which is neo-fascism that puts more socialist elements into it.

It's hard, then, to say "Yay Limonov!". He, who occasionally writes for "The eXile", claims to have given up ultra-nationalism in the face of Putin's abuse of it. I'm not sure what to make of it but he seems to have at least gone through the motions of coming to a more acceptable political stance.

From an article about him in "Radar":

"But in reality, Limonov provides most of the organizational force behind Other Russia: His 15,000 or so loyalists consist largely of young artists, intellectuals, skinheads, anarchists, and other outsiders. In the past, the group incorporated fascist and ultranationalist elements into both its platform and presentation, and embraced some questionable allies—one of Limonov's most despicable episodes came during the Balkan conflict when he fired automatic weapons down on the city of Sarajevo from a mountain encampment shared with accused Serb war criminal Radovan Karadzic. But the party now hews to a straight leftist political line on most issues, playing down its aggressively nationalistic stances. Putin's cynical use of nationalist rhetoric to manipulate public sentiment was partly responsible for the shift. "We live in a truly despotic regime," Limonov says. "This government is cruel to the poor and the vulnerable. Its only ideology is nationalism. Our left-wing views are much closer to those of the masses. If we were allowed to operate in a free society, I am sure that we would become the most popular party.""

The thing is that he is one of the two biggest opposition figures in Russia, but if that paragraph hadn't been written there would be no way in hell I would acknowledge him.

As it stands things are coming down hard on the Other Russia campaign, Kasparov, and Limonov. Now, the eXile is under investigation by the government and threatened with shut down. Initially the eXile benefitted by being an English language weekly run by expatriates who had no real influence, but after 11 years and an incredible book about the experience they're coming under fire by a Russian administration that doesn't like them and the role they could potentially play.

Both the Other Russia and especially the eXile deserve support, even if....and I say that with a lot of reservations. But, then again I'm not in Russia opposing Putin and Limonov is.

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