Vitaly Portnikov, Ukrainian political analyst, journalist and writer
Fascism is no longer a threat in Russia, Vitaly Portnikov says; rather, it is “an accomplished fact,” the result of a step by step process in which Vladimir Putin has realized that ignominious goal by destroying all democratic institutions, exploiting the grievances of the population, and increasingly using force abroad and at home.
Thus, it is time to stop speaking about fascism as a possibility in Russia as many, including most recently Anton Oleynik in “Vedomosti,” continue to do and to face up to the fact that it is already in place — and that the real question is what Russians and others now must do in response.
After the Crimean Anschluss, Russia’s part system was “finally liquidated,” and “United Russia, Just Russia, the KPRF and the LDPR can at any moment be united in some sort of National Socialist Workers Party of Russia. All of them will only be glad to do so,” something that makes a mockery of the Russian opposition’s complaints about electoral fraud.
That opposition has been declared “’a fifth column,’” he points out. “Big business just like in [Hitler’s] Reich finances the projects of those in power. There is a fuehrer. Nothing else is needed” – except of course using force rather than any other means to achieve Putin’s goals. And he has done that in Chechnya, Georgia and Ukraine as well as inside Russia as well.
No one should be under any illusions, Portnikov says. “Russia is a classic fascist state,” one in which the majority of its residents support Putin’s variant of “the ideology of Hitlerism.” The Russian leader has been working in this direction since 1999, but after the Maidan in Ukraine, “Russia finally cast off its mask.”
Consequently, first Russians and then all the rest of the world “now have seen the disgusting grin of its statehood.” It is irrelevant that Putin doesn’t call himself a fascist. As Oleynik pointed out, neither did Hitler. Thus Nazism was “a form of fascism” just as Putin’s regime is “a form of fascism. No more and no less.”
Something that both the supporters and the opponents of Putinist fascism need to remember is this, Portnikov says. “there are practically no cases of the modernization of fascist regimes.” Spain isn’t really an exception because the Caudillo was “not a classical fascist.” He simply included the Falangists in his regime.
A genuinely fascist regime, be it Hitler’s or Putin’s, “can only die.” How that happens is something for history to decide. But the task of hastening it is something anyone who cares about democracy and freedom cannot avoid facing – and facing right now. Acting as if this is not the case is not only a delusion; it is a critical political mistake that will entail enormous costs.