Richard Brenner (a member of “Workers Power” and the “Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine” campaign) has issued a statement explaining his attendance at a conference about Ukraine held in Yalta (Crimea) in early July. (1)
That conference – entitled “The World Crisis and the Confrontation in Ukraine” – was subject to lengthy criticism in the pages of “Solidarity”.
We argued that the conference was an initiative by people who fall somewhere in the grey area between extremist nationalism and outright fascism, and that any left-wingers attending it were, at best, playing the role of useful idiots. (2)
Subsequent events confirmed the validity of this criticism.
The conference attended by Brenner had been ‘fronted’ by Boris Kagarlitsky, who enjoys a reputation, albeit an increasingly tarnished one (3), as a longstanding left activist. But its key organizer was Aleksei Anpilogov.
In late August Anpilogov organized a second conference about Ukraine in the same venue, with the slightly different title of “Russia, Ukraine, Novorossiya: Global Problems and Challenges”. Fascists from across Europe were invited to attend the event, and a number of them took up the invitation. (4)
In explaining his attendance at the Yalta conference held in July, Brenner could have issued a simple statement along the following lines:
“Acting in good faith, and responding to an invitation from Boris Kagarlitsky, I attended a conference in Yalta in early July. I do not speak or read Russian or Ukrainian, and interpreting at the conference was poor-quality.
"I had no idea who most of the contributors were, and even less idea of their politics. I subsequently learnt that the conference organizer was an ultra-nationalist who collaborates with fascists. A number of other attendees at the conference shared, to one degree or another, his politics.”
"I realise now that I was lured to the conference under false pretences.”
Instead, Brenner has put together a statement which seeks to defend his attendance at the conference. Despite the length of his statement – nearly 5,000 words – his ‘defence’ is no defence at all.
Brenner argues that there is no connection between the conference which he attended in early July and the conference staged in late August:
“The August conference was organised, as the AWL's own report makes perfectly clear, on the initiative of the Russian government. The Russian government, by contrast, had nothing to do with the July conference, which was held on the initiative of Kagarlitsky's NGO.
"Far from the August conference being a ‘second stage’ of the July conference, it was a completely different event, convened by the state to counter the influence that the left has tried to secure over the representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics.
"… Far from the August conference showing that the left had been ‘dumped by our allies’, it was a counter-initiative by our enemies.”
This is nonsense from beginning to end.
Our article about the August conference did not say, suggest or even vaguely imply that the conference was organized at the initiative of the Russian government. And Brenner himself provides no evidence that the Russian government initiated the conference.
All publicity material for the August conference – such as the press releases issued before it took place (5) and the agenda issued to attendees (6) – described it as a “second international conference” which was being organized by “Novaya Rus’’. Subsequent reports of the event described it in the same terms. (7)
Anpilogov’s “Novaya Rus’” organisation (in fact, more of a website and loose network than a real organisation) had played the key role the first “international conference” (i.e. the July conference). Both conferences were therefore organized by the same person/network.
The organisational continuity of the two conference was further underlined in a lengthy report about the second conference written by Darya Mitina:
“On 29th/30th August in Yalta the second stage of the conference ‘Russia, Novorossiya, Ukraine: Global Problems and Challenges’ took place, organized by the ‘Centre of Co-ordination – Novaya Rus’’.
The first stage of the conference, which was notable for adopting the ‘Yalta Manifesto’, took place a month and a half ago. The left spectrum of the resistance was invited to it. This time the plan was to invite the right-conservative segment of the resistance.” (8)
Mitina is the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic. She spoke at the second Yalta conference and has also taken part in round-table discussions organized by the Izborsky Club, a fascist ‘think tank’ set up by the well-known Russian fascist Alexander Prokhanov. (9)
Why would she describe the August conference as the second stage of the same conference (part one for the left; part two for the right) unless that was the case? Or does Brenner want to accuse her of being an agent of the Russian government engaged in a cover-up of its role in the second conference?
There was also an overlap in keynote speakers at the two conferences.
Vladimir Rogov (leader of the Ukrainian “Slavic Guards”), Pyotr Getsko (‘Prime Minister of the Republic of Transcarpathian Rus’’), Maxim Shevchenko (see below for more information about Shevchenko), and Anpilogov himself spoke at both conferences.
Why would these speakers turn up at one conference in order to help “the left to try to secure influence over the representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics” and then turn up to another conference seven weeks later in order to help the Russian government “counter” what had supposedly been achieved at the first conference?
(It may well be the case that there were other people who attended both conferences. But the vagueness of Brenner’s statement makes it impossible to know for sure. The bulk of Brenner’s report of the contributors to the discussion at the first conference is largely a list of anonymous individuals:
“A woman from Donbas … a man from Kharkiv … a man from Donbass … a man from central Ukraine … a woman from Zaporozhye … a representative (of what?) from central Ukraine … a woman active in Kiev and Dnieperpetrovsk (sic) … a man from Donbass … a woman representing the Lugansk People’s Republic … ….”)
More important than the continuity of organization and speakers is the political continuity of the two conferences.
The July conference produced the “Yalta Manifesto”, which Brenner describes as “a progressive document”. In our criticisms of the July conference, on the other hand, we described the Manifesto as “owing rather more to the philosophy of Prokhanov than, say, to that of Robert Owen.”
How right we were. We now know, from Brenner’s statement, that the Manifesto was drafted by Maxim Shevchenko. And Shevchenko, who attended both Yalta conferences, is a member of the Izborsky Club and a former member of various other organisations of the Russian far right.
We also wrote of the Manifesto that it contained “much superficially attractive verbiage about how socially just and fair a future Novorossiya would be” but that such populism was a hallmark of “Russian-nationalist extremism.”
The fact that the August conference – attended by a medley of fascists, ultra-nationalists and anti-semites from across Europe – unanimously voted in favour of a statement containing the same right-wing populist verbiage corroborates that criticism.
According to the statement issued by the August conference, for example:
“The construction of the democratic state of Novorossiya is the priority for all anti-fascist social-political forces in the south-east and the other territories of former Ukraine. Novorossiya is a social anti-oligarchic state in which popular power is the only form of political structures and public power.” (10)
Are we meant to believe that such populism is “progressive” when backed by a conference attended by Richard Brenner but reactionary when backed by a conference attended by fascists such as Robert Fiore from Italy, Mateusz Piskorski from Poland and Johan Backman from Finland?
In describing the July conference as one which helped the left to “try to secure influence over the representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics” Brenner also ignores the obvious objection that the conference and the Manifesto which it produced were welcomed in the pages of Prokhanov’s newspaper “Zavtra”. (11)
It is simply not credible that a fascist like Prokhanov would have welcomed the conference if it had played the role ascribed to it by Brenner.
And Prokhanov was perfectly well aware of the nature of the conference. He was in Yalta at the time it took place and met with a number of the conference delegates. Conference attendees also included regular contributors to “Zavtra”.
If Brenner’s statement proves anything at all, it proves no more than he lacks even a basic knowledge of the Russian far right.
In his statement Brenner describes conference participant Maxim Shevchenko as a “left-wing journalist”. In fact, as already pointed out above, Shevchenko is a member of the Izborsky Club (12) with a history of involvement in far-right Russian politics.
In late 2011 Shevchenko was one of the three co-founders of the Florian Geyer “Conceptual Club”, one of a myriad of fascist think tanks launched in Russia in recent years.
The two other co-founders were Gaidar Dhzemal (an anti-Western Islamist, an admirer of the Nazi SS, and a follower of the Italian fascist philosopher Julia Evola) and Alexander Dugin (the leading figure in the Eurasian wing of Russian fascism, and also a member of the Izborsky Club). (13)
Other members of the Florian Geyer Club, which now appears to be defunct, included Alexander Prokhanov, Mikhail Leontyev, Maxim Kalashnikov (all of whom are also members of the Izborsky Club) and the well-known anti-semite Israel Shamir. (14)
But even before the creation of the Florian Geyer Club Shevchenko had already collaborated with the fascists with whom he was to co-found the club.
In 2010 Shevchenko attended a conference in Vienna entitled “Colour Revolutions in the CIS Countries (i.e. ex-USSR states) and Their Current Impact”, organized by the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPA).
Apart from members of the FPA itself, speakers at the conference included Dhzemal, Dugin, Leontyev, Kalashnikov and Shamir (15), as well as the Italian Nazi Claudio Mutti, who publishes the Italian translations of Dugin’s writings and edits the fascist magazine “Eurasia”. (16)
In 2012 Shevchenko went on to join the Anti-Orange Committee. Although the name harks back to the Ukrainian Orange Revolution of 2004, it was launched following the staging of pro- and anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow in 2012.
The name symbolized the belief that the Western forces, especially the CIA, which had supposedly been behind the earlier Orange Revolution in Ukraine were now at work in Russia and trying to bring down the Russian government. (17)
The Committee had nine members. Apart from Shevchenko himself, four other members of the Committee (Alexander Prokhanov, Alexander Dugin, Mikhail Leontyev and Nikolai Starikov) were members of the Izborsky Club. (18)
According to the Committee’s ‘”pact”:
“It is completely clear to all of us that the “Orangists” will lead the country to chaos, foreign intervention, and a breach of our sovereignty. We are confident that at the decisive hour all truly patriotic forces, all competitors in elections, all citizens of Russia who feel responsibility for their country will say ‘No’ to the Orange anti-national threat.” (19)
In a statement of his own, Shevchenko explained:
“Having staved off the Orange threat, we, people of the most different opinions and convictions, will then engage in free (electoral) competition in a free, united, independent, sovereign Russia, which … will realize the Eurasian project, returning to a single economic and political space our brothers and sisters who, by the will of the Orange traitors, have been delivered into the hands of tyranny.” (20)
At the same time as dealing with the threat from the “Orangists”, Shevchenko was also warning about the role supposedly played in Russia by Zionists (the updated version of the traditional anti-semitic trope of covert Jewish domination):
“The Israel lobby is very powerful in Russia. It consists of hundreds of politicians, journalists and secret service officers, businessmen and financial circles that transfer money outside Russia through offshore banks. They have corrupted a lot of people in positions of authority. The Russian Jewish Congress is only the top of the iceberg. The influence of the Zionist lobby in Russia is huge.” (21)
Shevchenko is a former member of the Florian Geyer Club, a former member of the Anti-Orange Committee, and a current member of the Izborsky Club who believes that the “Zionist lobby” exerts “huge influence” in Putin’s Russia.
So how does Brenner end up defining Shevchenko as “left-wing” and the author of a “progressive document”?
The most likely answer is: Brenner knows nothing of Shevchenko’s politics, and nothing of the politics of the Russian far right; he hears a few poorly translated statements by Shevchenko at the July conference; and those statements appear to Brenner, in his ignorance, to be “left-wing” and “progressive”.
Such ignorance hardly lends any credibility to Brenner’s defence of his attendance at the July Yalta conference. All the evidence suggests that he knows nothing of the politics of its participants, and understands those politics even less.
Shevchenko is one example of this. A second example is Vasily Koltashov.
Brenner writes that “not all the delegates (at the conference) were from the left.” But the only ‘non-left’ delegates he identifies are: someone from the Green Party of Belarus; someone who “appeared to be connected with” the Party of the Regions; and Vladmir Rogov from the Slavic Guard.
It would be fair to assume, therefore, that Brenner classifies Vasily Koltashov as belonging to the “left delegates”, especially given that Koltashov is the Deputy Director of Boris Kagarlitsky’s Institute for Global Research and Social Movements.
In his statement Brenner provides a summary of Koltashov’s presentation to the conference, without voicing any criticism of its contents. (Although Brenner does add on as a rider: “The translation of this was poor, and from what I understood it seemed very general.”)
But there is other material in circulation which provides a rather better basis for assessing Koltashov’s politics than a poorly translated and “very general” lead-off at a two-day conference in Yalta.
Koltashov is now a regular contributor to Anpilogov’s “Novaya Rus’” website. In the past four weeks the website has published ten of his articles. (22) They make for fascinating reading.
In an article entitled “Pro-American European Politicians Give Way to Patriots” Koltashov looks forward to a National Front government in France:
“The main way in which Sarkozy and Hollande, the current President of France, have damaged their reputations is that while they were in power their country finally became a geopolitical vassal of Washington.
"Today, devoid of glory, the traditional right and the traditional left can leave the centre-stage of French politics and yield leadership to the truly powerfully progressive National Front of Marine Le Pen.
"The arrival in power of this political force will mean the beginning of a great wave of changes in Europe and, in particular, in European politics in relation to Russia and Ukraine.
"A patriotic government in France, together with Russia, would doubtlessly take significant steps to resolve the Ukrainian problem from a position of European and Russian interests, but certainly not American interests.
"As our partner in the sphere of geopolitics, a France led by Marine Le Pen can prove to be more ruthless and uncompromising in relation to the USA and its intrigues in Europe than the Russian authorities themselves.
"Many representatives of the latter still try to find a compromise with the Anglo-Saxon world, even at the price of concessions in principle in relation to Ukraine and Novorossiya.
"The emergence in Europe of a new player such as a patriotic government of France, free of that suffocating pro-American political correctness, corresponds in the final analysis to the highest state interests of Russia and will stimulate the Kremlin to more energetic and decisive actions in the international arena.” (23)
In an article entitled “’Deutschland Uber Alles’: the Angela Merkel Version” Koltashov offers a perspective for Germany rather less optimistic than his visions of a France governed by Marine Le Pen:
“Right now in the east of Europe and in Eurasia as a whole powerful dynamic processes of economic integration are beginning. The initiator of these processes of integration is Russia. Eurasian integration has reached the culminating point where quantity is transformed into quality.
"And the key-point on which the transformation of quantity into quality depended was Ukraine. If Ukraine were to enter the (Russian-initiated) Customs Union and then the Eurasian Union, then this unification would doubtlessly achieve “initial cosmic speed” and remain in a stationary orbit.
"But if that were to happen, Germany would be in an unenviable situation. … Under these conditions the EU would enter into a new phase of disintegration and face the threat of terminal collapse. And Germany, having lost a significant part of it ‘domestic’ European market would have nothing for its pains.
"All this would have been practically inevitable if Viktor Yanukovich had remained in power in Ukraine and if that country had continued its course towards Eurasian integration. But Germany could not allow this to happen.
"Precisely for that reason it played one of the leading roles in organizing the overthrow of the legitimate government of Ukraine and supported the illegal military-fascist regime in its senseless and suicidal confrontation with Moscow.
"The fundamental interest of the ‘Reich’ of Angela Merkel is exactly the same as that of the USA: to prevent Russia from getting stronger and to prevent it from becoming a genuine superpower. Such a metamorphosis would inevitably weaken the position of Germany as European suzerain.” (24)
Despite his claims about Germany’s supposed role in the Maidan protests, in another article on the “Novaya Rus’” website Koltashov writes that the Kiev government is really no more than a puppet of America: “The regime of the Kiev junta is completely subordinate to the USA and does exactly what it is ordered to do by Washington.” (25)
Consequently, for Koltashov there can be only two possible outcomes to the current conflict in Ukraine:
“Either the capitulation of Russia and the Russian World in the face of western aggression, which is unacceptable under any circumstances. Or uncompromising struggle until total victory, which can only be the definitive destruction of the Kiev puppet regime and the liberation of Ukraine from de facto American occupation.
"In either case, the defeat of Novorossiya is impermissible, because it would also mean the defeat of Russia. This would open the road to the beginning of a political crisis in the Russian Federation itself and to aggression by the west aimed directly at our country.” (26)
"Unsurprisingly, in the light of the above, Koltashov also argues that, despite the economic hardships which the Ukrainian population will face in the coming months, Russia should refuse to provide any economic or other form of aid:
“There is a pause in the fighting, not peace. A pause in the civil war … between the people of former Ukraine and the usurpers of power in Kiev, who are the vilest enemies of their own people.
"To provide this genocidal regime with any economic assistance would be the same as extending for an indefinite length of time its domination of Ukraine and, consequently, the suffering which it causes. Russia must not go down such a hopeless path.” (27)
The nature of Koltashov’s politics is clear from such articles (and from the fact that he chooses to publishes them on the “Novaya Rus’” website, alongside of articles by Izborsky Club members such as Shevchenko, Delyagin, Shurygin and Kalashnikov, and non-Izborsky Club far-right-wingers such as Vasserman, Vershilin and Backman). (28)
Koltashov’s ‘anti-capitalism’ and ‘anti-imperialism’ are no different from that of the French National Front which he admires so much. They are not a socialist but a reactionary and nationalist form of ‘anti-capitalism’ (i.e. right-wing populism) and ‘anti-imperialism’ (i.e. the anti-US hostility of a Great-Russian chauvinist).
Koltashov’s Great-Russian chauvinism also defines his attitude to events in Ukraine.
Whereas Brenner deludes himself into believing that the conflict in Ukraine is a matter of “a just national struggle” and “a democratic struggle of the people of the south-east of Ukraine”, for Koltashov Ukraine is the fulcrum of the battle to restore Russia to its rightful status as a world superpower, through “the liberation of Ukraine from de facto American occupation”.
We also now know from Brenner’s statement that someone was present at the July Yalta conference from “Mothers of Ukraine”. In his notes of the discussions at the conference which Brenner includes in his statement, he writes:
“Representative of the Co-ordination of the Movement ‘Mothers of Ukraine’: I would like to say to our international guests if you look at mothers who do not have food for their children you would make your draft statement not milder but more severe. Ukraine is destroyed.”
We do not know for sure if the representative in question was Galina Zaporozhtseva, even though the latter is the sole public face of “Mothers of Ukraine” and pops up as its representative everywhere from the European Parliament in Brussels to Russian television studios in Moscow, dropping in on round-table discussions of the Izborsky Club while en route.
But it certainly is the case that the politics of “Mothers of Ukraine” are the politics of the former police officer and champion of the Berkut who set up the organization.
The first public appearance of Zaporozhtseva is to be found in an article published in Prokhanov’s “Zavtra” in December 2013. The article quoted “colonel of the militia Galina Zaporozhtseva” in an article siding with the Berkut in its conflict with the Maidan protestors. (29)
Zaporozhtseva’s television career began the following month, when “Novosti Novosty” channel interviewed “colonel of the militia Galina Zaporozhtseva” about the Maidan protests.
Zapozhtseva explained the ‘real’ causes of the unrest: “A massive number of terrorists from Syria and the Near East” had arrived in Ukraine, and it was their activities, carried out “behind the backs of students, youth, women and old men” which had resulted in the mayhem of the Maidan. (30)
Speaking for the first time on behalf of “Mothers of Ukraine” in a television interview in April of this year, Zaporozhtseva again defended the Berkut:
“Today scandalous practices are underway in relation to the colleagues of the Berkut who honorably fulfilled their professional duty. As a jurist I can categorically confirm that all actions of the Berkut, from 24th November onwards, were within the framework of the law concerning the militia.
"We also know, and have information about this, that the Berkut did not possess any weapons. All accusations which are now being fabricated against them – and I will insist on this – are intended to cover up the real criminals who opened fire on people.” (31)
That is to say: The “Mothers of Ukraine” began life not as the mothers of Ukrainian soldiers but as the mothers of members of the Berkut who had shot and killed demonstrators during the Maidan protests. (Assuming that “Mothers of Ukraine” actually has any existence apart from Zaporozhtseva’s media profile.)
The same month an appeal issued in the name of Zaporozhtseva and “Mothers of Ukraine” to “everyone who cares about the fate of our country” condemned the “state putsch” which had overthrown Yanukovich and the “bandits” who had seized control of Parliament.
“Armed thugs” were terrorizing “towns and villages throughout the country”. A “foreign intervention” had taken place in the guise of a “western-Ukrainian nationalist movement” and its aim was “the genocide of the Slavs.” (32)
The day after the 2nd May attack on anti-Maidan protestors in the Trade Union Building in Odessa Zaporozhtseva, now introduced as a “retired colonel of the militia”, was interviewed at length on Russian television:
“I saw the true face of fascism. … There is no law, there is no state, it is pure fascism. There is an information blockade about what is happening in Ukraine. But Russia broadcasts information. What Russia says is true, pure truth. … In Ukraine fascism has risen again.” (33)
In a subsequent television interview about events in Odessa Zaporozhtseva claimed that acts of cannibalism had taken place in the Trade Union Building:
“We are busy gathering information to hand over to international organisations. There are facts of cannibalism in the Trade Union Building in Odessa. … They were eating human flesh there, they were wandering around with napkins.” (34)
In July Zaporozhtseva was again interviewed on Russian television. She took it as an opportunity to thank Russia for its role in helping refugees: “Let us call things by their names. This is a war. A war is underway. Thank you, Great Russia. This is the only country which is today accepting citizens of Ukraine.” (35)
Zaporozhtseva’s most recent public appearance, in mid-September, was again in the pages of Prokhanov’s “Zavtra”, in a report of an Izborsky Club “round table discussion” entitled “An Ideology for Novorossiya”.
Other participants in the round table discussion included:
Alexander Nagorny (Izborsky Club secretary), Aleksei Anpilogov (organizer of both Yalta conferences), Vladimir Rogov (attended both Yalta conferences), Pavel Gubarev (Izborsky Club member and former ‘People’s Governor of Donetsk Region’), and Darya Mitina (attended second Yalta conference). (36)
At a certain point in time it becomes boring to write – and doubtless also to read – about the same names (Prokhanov, Rogov, Shevchenko, Anpilogov, etc.), the same organisation (Izborsky Club), the same website (“Novaya Rus’”) and the same newspaper (“Zavtra”).
But the reason why the same names, the same organization, the same website and the same newspaper repeatedly crop up is because that is the political milieu which provided the political framework for the two Yalta conferences. This is why, despite the difference in the target audience of the two conferences, the politics of both conferences were the same.
Brenner therefore finds himself in the illogical position of defending a conference based on those politics when he attends it, but condemning a second conference based on the same politics which he did not attend.
Brenner could try and square the circle by arguing that he attended the July Yalta conference in order to challenge nationalist and reactionary elements. And in his statement he hints that this was indeed his supposed role:
“In a just national struggle socialists need to combat nationalists within the movement for leadership of the resistance. That was what the Yalta conference in July, for all its limits and doubtless its faults, tried to do. We will continue to do so.”
This argument is problematic, to put it mildly, in a number of respects.
Brenner is unable to identify the “nationalists within the movement”. He thinks, for example, that Shevchenko is “left-wing”, and he is as uncritical of Koltashov as he is of the “Mothers of Ukraine”. If he cannot even identify the nationalists, he certainly cannot combat them.
In fact, Brenner does the opposite of “combating the nationalists in the movement”. By defending the July conference and trying to build a Chinese Wall between that conference and the August conference, he is helping to cover up for them.
After all, what better way of exposing and combating “the nationalists within the movement” than to point out that these are the people who ally themselves with the forces of pan-European fascism and reaction?
If Brenner was serious about “combating the nationalists within the movement” he did not even need to wait for the August conference before exposing their links with fascism. Those links were already manifestly evident at the time of the July conference (and highlighted by us in our criticisms of the event).
At no point in his statement does Brenner challenge the accuracy of what we wrote about the politics and fascist connections of those participants in the July conference who could be identified from reports of the event.
Instead, Brenner takes refuge in the following subterfuge:
“In the interest of providing, as it were, a flavour of the nature of the conference and, indeed, of the delegates themselves, I have set out my contemporaneous notes of their contributions below.”
“… I hope the account above, taken from my handwritten notes, helps give people a sense of the true content of the conference. Yes, there were nationalists there (it is a national liberation struggle) but there was no far right or fascist aspect to the discussion.”
But Brenner also admits, and is correct to do so: “This (reliance on my contemporaneous notes) means that some formulations are unclear or ambiguous, either because of translation difficulties or, possibly, because the original contributions were unclear or ambiguous.”
In our criticisms of the July conference we identified and sourced clear and unambiguous political statements and activities by various of its participants. Those statements and activities did not “provide a flavour” of their politics. They summed up and encapsulated their politics.
Brenner, on the other hand, counterposes to this his contemporaneous notes, unclear or ambiguous formulations, translation difficulties, and his own naïve inability to distinguish left politics from those of the Izborsky Club (Shevchenko) and Great Russian chauvinism (Koltashov).
The weakness of Brenner’s reliance on his contemporaneous notes to provide “a flavour of the nature of the conference and, indeed, of the delegates themselves” is highlighted by the issue of Rogov and his Slavic Guards.
In his statement Brenner indignantly writes: “When the international statement was published at the end of the conference, it included the signature of the reactionary Slavic Guard group, which has issued anti-gay, anti-EU propaganda, but this group had not identified themselves during the conference.”
The claim that Rogov did not identify himself politically during the conference is questionable. Anyone who has read his articles or listened to his interviews will know that Rogov is particularly forthright in stating his views.
And on the second day of the conference Rogov met with Getsko (in his capacity as “Prime Minister of the Republic of Transcarpathian Rus’”). The meeting, as Rogov posted on his Facebook page the same day, was attended by “representatives of countries and social organisations from the EU, the USA and Canada” (i.e. attendees at the conference).
More importantly, even if it were the case that Rogov and the Slavic Guard did not identify themselves politically at the conference – doesn’t this just confirm that Brenner’s contemporaneous notes fail completely to give a “flavour” of the politics which underpinned the conference and which were represented by its participants?
Brenner claims that “there was no far-right or fascist aspect to the discussion” at the July conference. We disagree with that. Proposals for the complete destruction of Ukraine and the restoration of nineteenth-century ‘Novorossiya’, like the entire Eurasian ‘project’. deserve to be classed, at a minimum, as far-right.
But even if, for the sake of argument, Brenner is right to say that “there was no far-right or fascist aspect to the discussion” at the July conference, then he is obliged to say the same of the August conference, which he himself describes as “a fascist conference”.
The amount of reports and video footage of the August conference on the internet dwarves the coverage of the July conference. It is clear from such reports and footage that the same issues were discussed in the same manner at both conferences.
To use Brenner’s expression: ““There was no far-right or fascist aspect to the discussion” at the August conference (in terms of Brenner’s understanding of what constitutes far-right or fascist discussion).
If the July conference deserves a clean bill of health because “there was no far-right or fascist aspect to the discussion”, then Brenner is obliged to say the same of what he himself calls the “fascist conference”!
Brenner also fails to ask himself the obvious question: If, as he claims, this is a national liberation struggle for freedom for Ukraine, why are the nationalists in the struggle Russian nationalists (politically and/or ethnically) rather than Ukrainian nationalists?
When did leaders of what Brenner in his statement calls “a national liberation struggle” ever champion the nationalism of the historical oppressor nation (in this case: Russia), and advocate that their own country be destroyed (as proposed in that “progressive document”, the Yalta Manifesto) and large parts of it be annexed into the historical oppressor nation?
The one conference attendee identified by Brenner as being a “nationalist” (or, at least, whose contribution was identified by Brenner as “nationalist”) was Anpilogov.
Brenner describes Anpilogov’s presentation to the July conference, “from what I (Brenner) understood”, as being “clearly nationalist, not socialist, but not at all of a far right character. He said we need to understand what is happening and what is coming next. If we see Russian flags in south-east Ukraine, this is not support for separatism but for the union of the Russian nation.”
Did Brenner need to wait until Anpilogov’s presentation before concluding that he was at least “clearly nationalist, not socialist”? The name of Anpilogov’s website/network is “Novaya Rus’”. “Rus’” is the archaic name for Russia, the borders of which did not coincide with Russia’s current borders. It is the equivalent of a Scottish political organization calling itself “New Alba”.
What Anpilogov actually argued in his lead-off (posted on YouTube on the second day of the conference (37)) was that “the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 created Ukraine (and) split the Russian world into different parts.” Russian flags in the south-east of Ukraine were therefore not a sign of separatism but of the “unification of the Russian World.”
(The rest of the translation of Anpilogov’s contribution provided by Brenner’s notes is even less accurate. But that does not concern us here.)
In an article on his website Anpilogov has expanded on the theme of what he calls the “unification” of the “great but currently divided Russian people”:
“And we will soon gather them (Russians in Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine and the breakaway Transnistrian Republic) together into one state. It is simply easier to live that way. Everybody together.
And if anybody thinks that this is a utopia, then I say to them that such a people actually emerged in Eurasia in the twentieth century. And it was called ‘Soviet’. But its journey was stopped in 1991. History is implacable – Russians will come together again. From Brest to Vladivostok, from Sevastopol to Anadyr.” (38)
Such a position – combining Stalinist nostalgia for a mythical Soviet past with the Eurasian goal of a single all-embracing state for all Russians – is rather worse than just “nationalist, not socialist.”
And especially so when its proponent allies himself with those committed to the military dismemberment of Ukraine, sets up a front organization to channel funds raised for separatist fighters by Russian fascists, and justifies Ukraine’s destruction in the pages of a fascist newspaper. (39)
(At the time of the July Yalta conference Prokhanov’s “Zavtra” had published 22 articles and contributions by Anpilogov. Now, while Brenner has been writing his defence of his attendance at a conference organized by Anpilogov, the figure has increased to 33 – an impressive achievement, given that the paper is a weekly publication. (40))
Brenner’s response to what he terms the “clearly nationalist, not socialist” contribution of Anpilogov also gives the lie to his claim that he attended the July conference to “combat the nationalists within the movement.”
Brenner does not challenge the nationalism of Anpilogov. Instead, he relativises it: Well, it could have been worse – at least Anpilogov’s contribution was “not at all of a far right character”!
Brenner is much more critical of Anpilogov for his role in the August conference:
“Alexei Anpilogov, a co-organiser of the July conference, also helped organize the August fascist conference. Shame on him for his opportunism, his lack of principle and understanding and his stupidity. However, his disgraceful action does not alter the character of the July conference for one moment.”
This is a very unfair criticism of Anpilogov by Brenner. Anpilogov was the lead organizer, rather than a co-organiser, of the July conference. And he played the same role in organizing, rather than merely help to organize, the August conference.
Criticising Anpilogov for opportunism, lack of principle and understanding, and stupidity are equally unfair.
Anpilogov knew what he was doing in organizing two separate conferences: one for a handful of useful idiots of the left, and one for the forces of fascism and nationalism with which he has so much in common.
What brings together Anpilogov (and the Izborsky Club, although he is not a member of it) and European fascist and other far-right nationalist organisations is a common ideology. The principal constituent elements of that shared ideology are:
- Hostility to the USA (the dominant post-war force in the world); hostility to globalisation (seen as a tool of US imperialism); hostility to the European Union (seen as a tool of German expansionism); hostility to ‘decadent’ western values (especially LGBT rights).
- Populist hostility to ‘big’ capitalism and oligarchs (but not capitalism per se); nationalism and ‘patriotism’ (both as a political forces and also as moral values); and support for the creation a multi-polar ‘New World Order’
An article on the “Noyaya Rus’” website explaining the significance of staging the August conference in Yalta sums up the global and epochal significance – the emergence of a multi-polar New Wolrd Order – which Anpilogov (and those who share his politics) attach to the emergence of Novorossiya:
“Here (in Yalta), in January 1945, cardinal questions concerning the post-war structure of the European continent and the world as a whole were decided.
"Today, when it is already completely obvious that the clearly outdated post-Soviet geo-political structures are being replaced by something quite new but not yet completely defined, the time has come to evaluate the direction and perspectives of these changes.
"And to do so taking account of the interests of the Russian Federation, the Russian world, and the international national-liberation movement as a whole.” (41)
The overlapping ideological tenets shared by Anpilogov and European fascist and far-right organisations are also reflected in the politics espoused on his “Novaya Rus’” website.
Articles by Koltashov look forward to a National Front government in France, the re-emergence of Russia as a world superpower, and the demise of Germany and the European Union.
What could be more logical, in the light of such articles, than for Anpilogov to have invited the National Front, and their counterparts in other European countries, to send representatives to the second Yalta conference?
Articles on the website by Izborsky Club members Shevchenko, Delyagin, Shurygin and Kalashnikov denounce the USA and the EU, sing the praises of a mighty Russia, and denounce Russian dissidents as pro-Western traitors.
Again, what could be more logical than for such writers to attend a conference – as Shevchenko and Delyagin did – with delegates from the European far right who share their view of global politics?
Another contributor to the “Novaya Rus’” website is Johan Backman (42), a Finnish Stalinist, historical revisionist, apologist for Russian imperialism (he was an ‘international observer’ of the Crimean referendum in March) and collaborator with the neo-Nazi Risto Teinonen organisation.
Backman also collaborates with Russian fascists. A meeting organized by Backman in Helsinki in May of this year attracted the condemnation of the Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee:
“Backman has invited leading proponents of Russian neo-fascism, Alexander Dugin, Alexander Prokhanov, and Nikolai Starikov, to speak at the event.
"Alexander Dugin, leader of the neo-fascist Eurasia Party and Eurasian Youth Union, has preached the onset of a ‘true, radically revolutionary fascism’ in Russia. Dugin yearns for the restoration of the Russian Empire and regards Finland as part of it.
"Alexander Prokhanov is a Stalinist and antisemite who has repeatedly and publicly called for the physical elimination of his ideological opponents. Nikolai Starikov is an author of fictionalised history and homophobic conspiracy theorist who supports the restoration of the totalitarian Soviet empire.” (43)
Again, what could be more logical than for Anpilogov to invite this website-contributor to attend the second Yalta conference and for Backman to take up that invitation (as indeed he did (44))?
The politics of such regular contributors to Anpilogov’s website further undermines Brenner’s claim that the second Yalta conference was an initiative of the Russian government.
All that Anpilogov did in organizing the second conference was to invite a greater number of his fascist friends and co-thinkers than he did on the occasion of the first conference.
Indeed, it would hardly be an exaggeration to say that Anpilogov’s website is the electronic equivalent of the second Yalta conference every day of the week.
In our original criticisms of the July Yalta conference we described it as:
“An exercise in political charlatanism, yet another occasion in which bogus ‘anti-imperialism’ trumped not just basic socialist principles but also plain common sense … an expression of accommodation and subservience to the politics of Russian imperialism and its Stalinist and white-imperial champions.”
Nothing in Brenner’s statement does anything to invalidate that description of the conference.
On the contrary, his whacky conspiracy theories (second conference was a plot by the Russian government), his magic-wand-waving transformation of Izborsky Club members into left-wingers (Shevchenko), and his willful blindness to the politics of the conference’s participants (e.g. Anpilogov and Koltashov) all point to one conclusion:
The charlatanism of the July Yalta conference and its accommodation to Russian imperialism and Stalinist nostalgia sum up Brenner’s own politics. Hence both his reluctance and also his inability to criticise the conference.
3) See: anton-shekhovtsov.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/boris-kagarlitsky-kremlins-mole-in.html (Most of the accusations are well-founded and backed up by hard evidence. But some are unsubstantiated and not to be accepted at face value.)
14) Photos/videos at: www.floriangeyer.ru/photos and www.floriangeyer.ru/video
39) See original article on the July Yalta conference, at (2) above.