“Ruscism” is a new term that has been thrown around a lot recently in social media and is even being used on posts from official Ukrainian government accounts. But what exactly is Ruscism? And what does the new notion represent in context to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine?

Ruscism or “Pашизм” is pronounced like the word fascism with an “R” instead of an “F” as the starting consonant. It roughly translates to “Russian fascism,” or the culmination of extreme right-wing values that now form the Russian war ideology. According to The New York Times, “Pашизм” is a word created from 3 languages, namely Italian, Russian, and English, that contains complex puns references that highlight the Ukrainians’ wit and ability to code-switch.


“‘Ruscism’ is a concept that will be in history books, will be in the conventional Wikipedia, will remain in the classroom. And little children all over the world will stand up at their desks and answer their teachers when this ‘Ruscism’ began, on what land and who helped in the fight for freedom against this very terrible concept,” Ukrainian President Zelensky said in a press conference.

The word was first used by Mariupol City Councilors, who were trying to point out the utter devastation their city and residents had experienced. From physical ruin to casualties of war in Mariupol to the mass executions in Bucha, Ukrainians described what was “Ruscism” to them. Now, you can see “Pашизм” in comment sections on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, and even on the ground in Ukraine.

Ruscism provides insight into Putin, and other Russian radicals’ worldview, which is derived from old Russian imperial beliefs such as Stalinism – ideologies adopted by Joseph Stalin formed around the centralization of power, the cult of personality, and other theories of socialism.

It is also inspired by Tsarism, a reference to the older Russian Empire and its emperors, which signifies the return to traditionalism, autocracy, and the restoration of the country’s former “greatness” at the cost of freedom.

Compared to Western observers, Ukrainians had a front-row seat to the gradual shift of Russian society to fascism under the Russian invasion. They saw signs pointing towards a Nazi-like regime: a cult-like following for their leader (despite a few thousand protesters), corporatism, a fetishization of a once glorious past, media censorship, state-run propaganda, and now a war against a “common enemy” of the state.