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National Bolsheviks. From Niekisch to Prilepin

He believed that the West was shaped by two “imperial figures” with Mediterranean roots: the “eternal Roman” (embodying Christianity) and the “perpetual Jew” (representing capitalism). He was convinced that Germany should reject both and choose its own identity – the “eternal barbarian”.

Zakhar Prilepin was lucky. Despite his severe wounds, he survived. Let’s recall this again – the attempt to assassinate him was carried out on May 6, 2023, near Nizhny Novgorod.

A bomb exploded in the car in which the famous Russian writer was heading to Moscow. The driver died. According to the BBC reports, Atesh – the Crimean Tatar military partisan movement fighting the Russians in the occupied territories of Ukraine – claimed responsibility for the operation. But who is really behind that incident is probably unknown.

There are people in Russian public life who can be considered emblematic figures when it comes to Russia’s ostentatious hostility towards Ukraine and the Western countries that support it. Prilepin is certainly one of those people.

However, his connections with the Russian authorities are far from obvious. This nearly 48-year-old prose writer, publicist, journalist, but also a political activist, the author of such novels as “Cанкья”/” Sankya ” or “Обитель”/”Abode”, was a dissident in the past. Although the repressions did not really touch him.

He began his political activity in the National Bolshevik Party, a group founded in 1994 by another Russian writer, Eduard Limonov. The National Bolsheviks, popularly known as “Nazbols”, have always been outside the mainstream of Russian politics. They had no representatives in the Russian parliament. They contested both – the line of Boris Yeltsin as well as the course of Vladimir Putin. The nostalgic feelings for the Soviet superpower they combined with postulates of left-wing social solutions. The authority in Russia – regardless of who actually exercised it – was accused of authoritarianism and being on the Western capitalists’ dime, and that betrayed the interests of the Russian state.

In 2007, the National Bolshevik Party was outlawed on charges of extremism. Its members continued their political activity in new groups.

And so Prilepin took part in mass demonstrations – let’s even think about those that swept through Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2011 and 2012. It happened after the parliamentary elections in Russia. The protests participants accused the government of electoral fraud.

At that time, the writer harshly criticised Putin’s regime. But he also distanced himself from the Russian liberal bourgeoisie – a distinctive social stratum during anti-Putin speeches – with which the Nazbols did not get along.

The situation has changed in 2014 – with the landing of the Russian’s “little green men” in Crimea and Donbass. Prilepin, appreciating the aggressiveness of the Kremlin in the international arena, decided to conclude a truce with them. Thus, he became an extremist licensed by the system. And in 2021, being one of the leaders of the left-wing nationalist party “A Just Russia – For Truth” (except that nationalism, in this case, meant an option supporting a Russian multinational empire, not a Russian nation-state), he was elected as a member of the State Duma. However, eventually he gave it up. He motivated his decision by the desire to get trained in the field of state administration management.

For Prilepin, his own image is important. The writer poses as a tough guy who has gone through many combat trials in his life.

And in fact – while serving in OMON (Special Purposes Mobile Unit/a Russian secret service military unit), he fought in the first Chechen war. Its brutality was later described in the novel “The Pathologies”. In addition, since 2014, he has provided military support as a volunteer to pro-Russian separatists from the Donetsk “People’s Republic”. He was even an adviser to its leader Alexander Vladimirovich Zakharchenko. He spoke highly of him in his novel “Some will not go to hell”.

Read the full story.

By Philip Memches
Translated by: Katarzyna Chocian

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