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UK intel: Russian nationalist movement pushes for harsher approach to war against Ukraine

Owner of a Russian nationalist TV channel Konstantin Malofeev is sponsoring a university movement that envisions global Russian ideological dominance
Fraternity academics Russia imperialism
The Brotherhood of Academists and participants of other right-wing communities at the “Patriotic festival Pokrov” in Astrakhan, 2023. Source: VKontakte public group “Akademists | Astrakhan”
UK intel: Russian nationalist movement pushes for harsher approach to war against Ukraine

A Russian nationalist student movement called “The Fraternity of the Academics” is gaining influence and could impact Russia’s approach to the war in Ukraine, according to the UK Defence Intelligence.

The ideology of the “Russian world,” driving Russia’s war against Ukraine, is already pretty extreme, as it gives Russia’s invasion a sacral dimension by pitting “holy Russia” against the “godless West.” However, this report suggests that even more radical forces are emerging within Russia.

The Fraternity of the Academics, known as “akademisty” in Russian, consists of nationalist-conservative student groups established in universities across Russia. The project is financially backed by Konstantin Malofeyev, a billionaire who founded the right-wing conservative media outlet Tsargrad.

According to reports from the Russian media outlet Verstka, the movement has seen rapid growth since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began. From Crimea to Vladivostok, students are gathering to promote nationalism and “traditional values” within Russian universities.

The movement “has cells in various Russian universities and adheres to a militantly imperialist outlook,” the UK Ministry of Defense stated in a 22 June report.

The Fraternity’s ideology envisions the 21st century as potentially becoming “a golden century of Russian culture with Russian ideological dominance on a global scale.”

The UK Ministry of Defense notes that the Fraternity has organized military training for its members, with some going to fight in Ukraine. The movement is described as “totally hostile to Ukrainian statehood.”

The existence and growth of this nationalist student group points to “a constituency in Russia for a more militant approach towards both the war on Ukraine and the West,” according to the intelligence update. This shift in sentiment could have significant implications as a generational change occurs in Russia’s administrative elites over the coming years.

The report suggests that the Fraternity’s influence may lead to a more aggressive stance from Russia, both in its conduct of the war in Ukraine and in its relations with Western countries. As younger leaders potentially sympathetic to such nationalist ideologies rise to power, it could shape Russian foreign policy for years to come.

The Russian media Verstka 

The Fraternity of the Academics, known as “akademisty” in Russian, consists of nationalist-conservative student groups established in universities across Russia. The project is financially backed by Konstantin Malofeyev, a billionaire who founded the right-wing conservative media outlet Tsargrad and was one of the key figures behind the separatist movement in Donbas.

According to reports from the Russian media outlet Verstka, the movement has seen rapid growth since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began. From Crimea to Vladivostok, students are gathering to promote nationalism and “traditional values” within Russian universities.

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