Oleg Makarenko’s website Ruxpert may not command the viewer numbers of Wikipedia which inspired it, but inside Russia it holds a prominent position in what Makarenko calls an information war with the West, Reuters reports:
As Vladimir Putin has embraced an increasingly nationalist ideology in his third term as president, evidenced by his seizing of Crimea from Ukraine, Makarenko’s anti-Western ideas have become mainstream. His website, designed to be a “Patriot’s handbook”, has mirrored and presaged Putin’s thinking.
“If we fail to win the information war then it will be easy for the Americans to get people on to the streets,” said Makarenko. “Russia has an ideology of traditional conservatism. People have a choice – on the one hand they see the West, where there is individualism taken to the extreme, tolerance to the extreme, gay parades, the lack of a traditional family,” he said.
“Russia has more traditional values. I cannot say that this is a route of development that offers a brighter future, but it is not the dead-end that Western liberalism faces.”
Before, after Crimea
Last year, Putin’s called for a new patriotism to save Russia from Western ideology which was “denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual”.
But Putin’s Eurasian vision is likely to remain precisely that, says an expert observer.
“Under Putin, Russia is now moving along its own neo-imperial path, and the rapidly mounting burden of that course carries serious risks for the country’s future,” argues Vladimir Ryzhkov, a State Duma deputy from 1993 to 2007:
Without exception, every empire of the past — from the Roman to the Soviet, from the Spanish to the British — collapsed for the same reason: the inability to bear what might be called “the burden of empire.” … Domestically, a neo-imperialist policy requires a strong military, significant outlays for the maintenance of colonies and dominions, and a massive bureaucracy.
“This rapidly growing overload could cost Russia not only its long-desired modernization, but even its very existence,” he writes for The Moscow Times, citing 18th-century French political philosopher Montesquieu’s observation: “An empire can be compared to a tree whose overgrown branches drain all the sap from the trunk, rendering it fit only to cast a shadow.”
‘Very risky move for Putin’
Historian Valery Solovei noted Putin’s use of the word “Russky” for Russian instead of the more usual “Rossissky” – a possibly significant linguistic shift suggesting Putin sees himself as leader of all Russians, not just those living within Russia’s borders, Reuters reports.
“He used the word Russky 27 times. This has never happened before,” Solovei said of a word that is used to describe someone by their ethnicity rather than their citizenship. “So the Eurasian Union has been taken over by some kind of vague notion of ‘a Russian World’. It’s an ideological innovation.”
“We are not talking about the former Soviet Union, but the unification of Russians, like a kind of community. The question is how do you interpret this? Is it cultural, ethnic or biological even?” Solovei said.
“The other thing is, is the move ideologically entrenched or not? It’s a very risky move for Putin.”