- The "White World's Future?"An Analysis of the Russian Far Right
Russia has witnessed dangerously high levels of hate-based violence on ethnic or racial minorities carried out by groups described either as "Neo-Nazi" or "skinhead" in the Russian media.1 These groups have been active in using violence against those who are racially different. In 2009, for example, at least 72 people were killed and 359 injured in racist incidents in Russia. In 2011, at least 16 people were killed and a further 90 were injured.2 In the first half of 2012, five people were killed and over 77 were injured in different regions in Russia.3 It should be noted additionally that these frightening statistics are conservative estimates, because not all violence gets reported. Yet while using such terms may be the most accurate way to define these groups, it is necessary to pay attention to nuances and details of their ideology, or else we risk misunderstanding them. This article aims to make a contribution to those efforts.
Far-right groups in Russia advocate ideas of racial hygiene and a halt to Muslim immigration. These ideas are widely shared by European far-right groups. Moreover, the intellectuals of the Russian far right seek support and often relate to their European counterparts. It is therefore clear that there is at least some ideological overlap. However, the transmission of ideas between the Russian and European radical Right leads to questions.
How do proponents of the extreme Right position Russia in relation to [End Page 79] Europe? How do they understand the interaction between Europe and Russia in overcoming the perceived shared challenges of immigration and preserving the national genotype? How is the concept of "race" to be understood?
These questions are important for a number of reasons. First, as mentioned previously, without such scholarship there is a danger of misunderstanding the ideology of any part of the European far Right. This can have real consequences when it comes to designing policy. Second, while the Russian far Right has traditionally taken anti-Western positions, explaining the cross-border conversation between the Russian and European far Right strikes one as a puzzle. Finally, understanding the degree to which the ideas expressed by the far right mobilize traditional themes of Russian nationalism has implications for how popular the movement is likely to become and, in turn, how likely the nightmare "Weimar Russia" scenario is.4
One attempt to answer these questions was carried out using the 2006 Moscow conference "The Future of the White World." Through analysis of the documents produced at this conference, this article argues that the concept of Euro-Russia (or, variably, the "White Eurasia") represents the coalescence of Western far right hopes in a union with forces in the East.5 A racial union will be the most secure kind due to (what the conference participants see as) the centrality of race to culture and values. Furthermore, the construction of such a concept reflects a belief in the accuracy of Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations," while simultaneously giving this idea the appearance of objective reality. The conference and accompanying actions undoubtedly contributed to an atmosphere that makes violent acts on the basis of ethnic or racial difference appear rational.
The article is split into four sections. First, we discuss the 2006 Moscow conference as part of a series of far-right conferences in recent Russian politics. Second, we argue for the suitability of our methodology of qualitative content analysis. Third, we focus on the prescription of the conference: the foretold union of Euro-Russia. This concept has similarities to classical doctrines of Eurasianism, but hails from a fundamentally different perspective. This is especially clear in how race, religion, and ethnicity are to be understood in this new world. The final [End Page 80] section deals with the motivations for this concept, the idea of Euro-Russia as a retreat for white people in the "Clash of Civilizations," the threat of racial intermixing, and Euro-Russia as a bulwark against the liberalizing forces of NATO. In this manner, this article delivers a comprehensive account of the "White World's Future."