Drawing conclusions from the nationalist rally on November 4
It was clear from the start that the Russian March would be banned. Last year’s march had suddenly revealed that an appropriate signal was enough to bring thousands of young, resolute people out into the streets of Moscow. The Movement Against Illegal Immigration organized this year’s event.
It was clear from the start that the Russian March would be banned. Last year’s march had suddenly revealed that an appropriate signal was enough to bring thousands of young, resolute people out into the streets of Moscow.
The authorities started suspecting that certain forces might be able to use this potential for purposes far removed from maintaining stability. So they decided to ban the Russian March henceforth.
The Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), which ensured large numbers for last year’s march, took on the task of organizing it this year and carried out a powerful information campaign online.
As soon as Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov denied permission for the Russian March, some fairly alarming information appeared via the Internet: DPNI leaders called on their supporters to assemble in the subway, at the Komsomolskaya Koltsevaya metro station. Naturally, the prospect of an underground clash between hundreds of youths and police scared not only the Moscow authorities, but also the Duma members who supported the march – Dmitri Rogozin, Yuri Saveliev, Nikolai Kurianovich. An aide to one of them told us that it took until the evening of November 3 for these lawmakers to persuade DPNI leaders to abandon plans for an underground event and participate in the People’s Will party’s officially-sanctioned rally at a square called Devichie Field.
On the morning of November 4, the square where the nationalists were due to gather was surrounded by numerous OMON riot police, special buses, and cars with water cannon. Helicopters circled menacingly overhead.
Although many youths were detained as they approached Devichie Field, around three thousand people eventually assembled there.
The speeches made by lawmakers were entirely predictable. Basically, they called on the Russian people to become aware of themselves as masters of their own fate, and used a number of other slogans that failed to draw much enthusiasm from the audience. But the crowd woke up when DPNI leader Alexander Belov rose to speak, armed with two megaphones. Skinheads from the Slavic Union tried to out-shout Belov, calling him a Jew, but he still managed to say the magic words that seemed to be his purpose in arranging the whole event.
“Down with Aslanbek Dudayev!” shouted the DPNI leader. This is what the nationalists call Vladislav Surkov, deputy head of the presidential administration (a hint at his Chechen roots). The crowd supported the slogan, although it’s unlikely that everyone understood the reference.
At the conclusion of his fiery and indistinct speech (bad megaphones), Belov announced the formation of a new movement called Russian March.
This seemed to support opinions expressed anonymously by certain Kremlin-linked political analysts, to the effect that one of the Kremlin factions is acting as the DPNI’s protector – and planning to use the DPNI in its confrontation with another Kremlin faction. The public attack on Surkov is strong evidence in favor of this theory. Yet it doesn’t account for the thousands of youths who marched off after the rally, following their leader into an uncertain political future.