Russian and Ukrainian rightists vow to continue their war
Houses destroyed by Russian forces' shelling in the village of Novoselivka, near Chernihiv, Ukraine, April 13, 2022 | AP

Political forces committed to continuing the war showed that right wingers continue to hold sway in both Russia and Ukraine this week as the six-month anniversary of the Russian invasion passed.

Strong promises to fight on until “victory” emanated from the governments in both Moscow and Kiev this week, showing that forces committed to peace in those countries and around the world have their work cut out for them.

August 24, exactly six months after the Russians invaded Ukraine, is also Ukrainian “Independence Day.” It is the date that the Ukrainian legislature declared its “independence” from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1991.

Taking advantage of the chaos and confusion of the so-called “August Coup” against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, a group of right-wing nationalist lawmakers in Kiev initiated a move in August 1991 to sever Ukraine from the USSR. They succeeded in getting a resolution passed calling for a referendum on separation.

It was actually not until December 1991, however, that the leaders of the Russian, Ukrainian, and Byelorussian Republics defied the will of voters who wanted to preserve the Soviet Union and officially pulled out and thereby dissolved the USSR.

Since that time, annual rallies held across Ukraine, particularly in the western part of the country, have drawn a variety of right-wing groups celebrating the breakup of the USSR. This year, many events were not held out of fear they might be attacked by the Russian military.

President Volodymyr Zelensky instead opened what the government called the Crimea Summit, a body aimed at taking back control of Crimea. It was formed after Crimea was declared part of Russia following fighting between the two countries in 2014. The population of Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation in a plebiscite that Ukraine and the U.S. have declared “illegitimate.”

At the “summit” this week, Zelensky declared that there will be no end to the war until Crimea and all other territories the Russians have occupied are returned to Ukraine. He said Ukraine will not even be satisfied if the Russians pull back to the borders that existed when the war began six months ago.

“It is necessary to gain victory in the fight against Russian aggression. It is necessary to liberate Crimea. This will be the resuscitation of world law and order,” Zelensky declared.

In Moscow, meanwhile, the influence of Russia’s extreme right-wing nationalist forces was also clearly on display this week.

Alexander Dugin, a fascist philosopher reportedly close to President Vladimir Putin, spoke at a memorial for his daughter Darya, who was killed on Saturday by a car bomb. Russia’s intelligence agencies blame her death on Ukrainian special forces, but Ukraine denies having anything to do with the killing.

Dugin was known as an admirer of Hitler in his youth and associated with Russian nationalist forces at the time of the USSR’s demise, helping found the so-called “National Bolshevik Party,” a play on the Nazis’ official name, the National Socialist Party.

He advocates a “Eurasian” empire led by ethnic Russians and believes secularism, multiculturalism, democracy, and egalitarianism are the enemies of Russia. “What Russia needs,” Dugin has said, is a “genuine, true, radically revolutionary and consistent, fascist fascism.”

The Russian government encouraged people to join protests to mourn the death of Dugina, who had been a regular figure on a right-wing religious television channel, Tsargrad, a Russian term for Constantinople, which her father heads. Tsargrad literally means, in Russian, “the Czar’s City.”

“The huge price we have to pay can only be justified by the highest achievement: victory,” Dugin declared on Russian television after his daughter’s assassination. “She lived for the sake of victory, and she died for the sake of victory: our Russian victory, our truth, our Orthodox faith, our state.”

Taking advantage of the right wing’s support for the war and trying to channel it into support for himself, Putin posthumously awarded Dugina a medal, the Order of Courage, and said she had “proven what it is to be a Russian patriot.”

Right-wingers in Russia are using the death of the young woman to stir up support for their brand of extreme nationalism.

U.S. support for Zelensky’s calls for more war, meanwhile, help inflame the situation inside Russia. In honor of Ukraine’s Independence Day, the Biden administration announced the shipment of another $3 billion in arms to the country.

Separately Wednesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights accused Russian-installed authorities in occupied Mariupol of planning to stage show trials of prisoners of war in humiliating metal cages being erected in the city’s philharmonic hall.

Morning Star contributed to this article.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People's World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.