Former Communists Turn to Nationalism Party Press Adopts Theme of 'Great Russia'

By Daniel Sneider, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, November 13, 1991 | Go to article overview

Former Communists Turn to Nationalism Party Press Adopts Theme of 'Great Russia'


Daniel Sneider, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


BEFORE the aborted August putsch, the masthead of Pravda proudly carried the communist exhortation: "Workers of the world, unite!"

The slogan has been removed and the space left blank. But if it were replaced, it might read instead: "Russians unite!"

Russian nationalism, once condemned as the enemy of proletarian internationalism, is finding a comfortable home in the pages of the former Communist Party press these days. Both in print and in the activities of the communist faction in the Russian parliament, the remnants of the Soviet Communist Party are rapidly shedding the globalist revolutionary pretensions of Leninism in favor of an openly anti-Western, Russian nationalism.

Pravda, the paper founded by Vladimir Lenin in 1912, has taken a particularly nationalist tack in the last couple of weeks. The strongest signal of this shift was a front page article on Nov. 2 by Igor Shafarevich, a reknowned mathematician who caused a stir in early 1990 with the publication of a Russian nationalist - and some say, anti-Semitic - pamphlet entitled "Russophobia."

The collapse of the Soviet Union, which Pravda once regularly lamented, is no great tragedy, Mr. Shafarevich writes. "Coming to our senses after the first shock, we see that Russia in its new borders may become a more viable country, may stand more firmly on its feet than the former USSR," he argues. Russia's viability comes in large part from its ethnic homogeneity, he continues. Its population is 81 percent Russian. "Russia is now more ethnically homogeneous than Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Spain or Great Britain," he says.

"We have liberated ourselves from the yoke of 'internationalism,' and have returned to the normal existence of a national Russian state which traditionally includes many national minorities," Shafarevich writes. The problem now is to rid Russia of a narrow ruling elite of 'former' communists - he notes Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin - who continue to "think in international terms."

After the country is liberated from these rulers and a new leadership with a nationalist orientation established, "one of the first acts should be the secession of Russia from the nonexistent USSR," Shafarevich concludes. He rejects even economic union as "a means of pumping resources out of a bleeding Russia."

The desire to restore "Great Russia" is not hidden in this tract. The article assails those who have abandoned the Russian minority in the Baltic states or want to "hand over the Kurile Islands" to Japan. Referring in passing to the Soviet-American alliance in promoting Middle East peace and in the Gulf war, Shafarevich attacks the current leadership for "attaching us to the American chariot and ruining our friendly relations with the Islamic world. …

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