Staunton, June 9 – Russian fascists in Harbin in the 1930s were the first to use “Rossiyane” as the Russian government now does to designate the entire population of Russia, according to a Russian nationalist writer who believes that this “fascist” link will be yet another reason for Russians to reject it and seek instead the creation of an ethnic Russian nation state.
In a commentary on the Vserusskie.ru site, Kirill Nemiga says that “a paradoxical situation” has arisen: Russian officials routinely denounce Russian nationalists as fascists even though their ideology has more in common with that of Mussolini than do the beliefs of the nationalists (vserusskie.ru/article/item/?id=2d4dd5ae97734896ae5d33b1cd684de3).
Russian nationalists start from the proposition that “the ethnic Russian people must forma nation state which in its turn will be required to express the will of the ethnic Russians, of course in agreement with the interests of the [other] indigenous peoples of Russia.” But Mussolini had exactly the opposite view.
According to the Italian leader, Nemiga says, “the nation does not create the state but the state the nation by giving the people will and an effective existence.” That view is shared by the Russian ruling elite which has been trying over the last 20 years to create “a new community of people, the [non-ethnic] Russian people [Rossiyane]” that includes all those under its power.
This elite, the Russian nationalist continues, have sought to project this identity back in time by claiming the Yaroslav the Wise, Aleksandr Nevsky, and Dmitry Donskoy were “Rossiyane.” But that is nonsense, Nemiga says. They did not know the word; they were Russians. As Aleksandr III put it, “Russia for the [ethnic] Russians and in a Russian Way!”
And this elite has also tried to use citations from Lomonosov, Derzhavin and Karamin, who did use the term “Rossiyane” but only as “a poetic designation of the [ethnic] Russian people and not as a generalized name for all the people of the Russian Empire.”
Nonetheless, Nemiga continues, Boris Yeltsin did not dream this term up “in a drunken stupor.” It does have a clear historical antecedent: in the ideas of the All-Russian Fascist Party which was formed in the 1930s in Harbin,” a party that was explicitly inspired by the views of Mussolini.
In its 1935 program, the All-Russian Fascist Party declared that “in Fascist Russia, every Rossiyanin will feel himself a member of one family, the Rossiiskaya Nation.” And in 1937, that party’s leader, Konstantin Rodzayevsky expanded upon that point in an article in the party’s newspaper, “Nash put’ (no. 1(1109), p. 7).
According to him, the slogan “Rossiya for the Rossiyane” is based on the idea that “all the peoples” of Russia are Rossiyane, that they are “united by a commonality of historical fate, have the right to the construction, strengthening and beautification of a common fatherland home, the new Great Fascist Russia which must be the final stage of the common struggle for a bright future.”
As Nemiga gleefully concludes, that is a most interesting origin of the term “Rossiyane” in its contemporary sense because it means that he has “very, very bad news for dear Rossiyane” now. They, and not the Russian nationalists who are often described in that way, are the ones with fascist roots.