Not long before his disease the President ordered his entourage to organize a meeting of the Security Council, dedicated to political extremism in Russia, within the next few days.
Due to this Nikolai Bordyuzha, director of the Presidential Administration and security Council Secretary, announced that making of some personnel decisions, regarding the top ranking generals, during this meeting can not be excluded. According to him, the Presidential Administration “has thoroughly started investigation of the Russian National Unity (RNU) activity”. Inquiries were sent to the law enforcement agencies to obtain a more complete information about this organizations.
What does the Kremlin dislike in the RNU? It seems that quite recently the RNU was not noticed by society at all. Only sometimes the organization reminded about itself during the irregular distribution of leaflets and Russky Poryadok (Russian Order, – translator’s note) newspaper at the subway stations and in other public places.
It has been known about the RNU for a long time. Its members were among the most active and well-organized defenders of the White House in October of 1993, but the authorities forgave the participants of the so-called “mutiny”, and the RNU was rehabilitated together with the other parties.
Regional organizations of the RNU exist in Russia since 1995. Judging by the registration certificates, the main goals of their activity are “restoration of the united Russian nation” and similar directions. The documents of the RNU do not say a word about intolerance to the Jews and other nationalities, although the strict nationalism is felt in every word. On February 15 of 1997 the first constitutive congress of the RNU was conducted, but the organization was not registered after it. The Ministry of Justice found some difference in the documents and lists of the founders, due to which it refused to register the movement. Not a single word was said about the fascism and human hatred ideology in the explanation of the refusal.
Since that time the RNU operated like a public organization, and had no conflicts with the law and local authorities (although, according to Yevgeny Proshechkin, chairperson of the Moscow Anti-Fascist Center, there are enough contradictions to the Criminal Code, Constitution and Moscow laws in the program documents of the RNU).
When the local mass media called the RNU a fascist organization, the movement simply filed a suit to the court, and, as a rule, won the process. Thus it happened in Stavropol. Quite recently in Chuvashia Sergeev accused the local newspaper of the accusation of the RNU actions by the word “fascism”, and the court almost completely recognized his claim.
On December 19 of 1998 RNU planned to organize a congress in the sporting center Izmailovo (Moscow) to make amendments to the regulations of the organization and make the second attempt to obtain the registration from the Ministry of Justice on the federal level. Suddenly the Moscow government, presided by the mayor, refuse the permission to the RNU for organization of a congress in the city with reference to clause 29 of the Constitution, which forbids the propaganda of national superiority and kindling of ethnic hostility, as well as to presidential decree N 310 of April 23, 1995, “On measures for provision of coordinated actions of the state power bodies in the struggle against fascism and other forms of political extremism in the Russian Federation”.
The decree obliged the executive power bodies not to permit the public meetings to the public organizations, if violations of the current legislation were previously registered in their actions, but the RNU has always been “on friendly terms” with the law enforcement agencies. The actions of the mayor’s office are not quite clear. Well known human rights protector Sergei Kovalev demonstrated this very well, having said that it is necessary to struggle by the democratic methods. He pointed out that “every gibberish of Barkashov (RNU leader, – translator’s note) is extremely dangerous, but the attempts to revive the censorship are more dangers.” Kovalev has convincing arguments: “What is the ban of the RNU congress from the legal point of view? Is it s stopping of the uncommitted crime? But this is nonsense.” Kovalev added: “You need to be on your guard to prevent a crime, but when it is committed, start legal procedures. You need to persecute by the law, if you wish to live by the law and build the legal state.”
Meanwhile, we have the reasons to say that the law, which tightens demands to the programs and certain statements of the nationalists, has the chances for appearance. For the first time the draft law, offered by the Ministry of Justice, and approved by the government in the middle of January, defined this notion as “the actions, targeted at the violent overthrow of the state system and kindling of the social, national and religious hostility.”
For the first time the law implemented the ban of the organizations (both registered by the Ministry of Justice and the unregistered ones), whom the court defined as the extremist ones. It is also offered to implement the so-called disavowing. This means that the future law obliges the political organizations to define their position towards any extremist statement of its members. If the party supports his statements, the responsibility is laid on the whole organization. In this case the Ministry of Justice files a suit to the court. Warning, suspension of the party’s activity or its ban can be the stopping measures.
Meanwhile the streamlined character of the main wording of the law may result in serious problems in proving of the guilt of the accused. As usual, the authorities offer tracking of the illegal actions of the public organizations in close cooperation with the special services. In addition, representatives of the Ministry of Justice have the right to be present at the congresses of the organizations, writing down the illegal statements of their members and anti-social clauses of the programs. Anyway, the law leaves many technical difficulties. Criteria of the notions “kindling of national hostility”, “fascism”, “overthrowing of the state system” are still vague. It is clear that it is impossible to find such terms in any party program.
It seems that approval of such law by the Duma will be also very problematic. The parties, especially those being in opposition, will hardly wish to “chop the bough, on which they sit”. Due to this appearance of a new presidential decree is possible, which will be targeted at a more effective counter-actions against the extremism before approval of the law.
At this point the documents of the Kremlin will evidently find understanding of the society and the power structures. Attempts of the Kremlin, government, Federal Security Service and public anti-fascist organizations to solve the problem of the extremist informal associations will not be rejected and doubted by anyone. The socioeconomic crisis, which swept the country, non-payments to the state employees, strikes and crime growth may become the precondition for the mass unrest in the country, and if an organization appears, which targets this unrest into the “necessary” direction, the end of the present power is inevitable.
The RNU is dangerous for the present regime not only by its nationalism, but primarily by its strict discipline and perfect organization. RNU enjoys popularity not only among the youth, but also among a certain part of militia, militaries, border guards and special services agents.
Thus, it is understandable why the Kremlin looks at the RNU with caution, but it seems to be late with its conclusions. It may happen that the Kremlin might be late with its initiative of counter-action to the extremism. It gave too much time for the RNU and other radical organizations to form their paramilitary units.