Editor’s Note: We received this from the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s Office of Strategic Communications. It comes to use as Russia’s Deputy Representative to the UN Demetry Polyanskiy called for a meeting at the UN on July 11th which will purport to inform the assembled body of the history of Nazism in Ukraine and its current status within the country.
Ukraine has responded with its own research which makes the case that within Russia a modern neo-nazi(neo-fascism) phenomenon also exists in Russia and has for some time.
A short time back we published content about the odd-world universe of Russian graphic novels that fetishizes the Nazis as allies of the Soviet Union. The USSR and Nazi Germany did begin WWII as allies and invaded Poland together remaining allies for nearly two years until Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June, 1941.
It is said that, “War is diplomacy by other means” and all wars end up boiling down to political differences between belligerents that cannot be settled peacefully. In Ukraine, this war does not seem to be about new disagreements but about very old ones.
That being said, Nazism is interwoven into the histories of both Ukraine and Russia. As I said earlier, the USSR and Nazi Germany began WWII as allies. They were not ideological rivals to each other but competitors in socialist ideologies. Soviet Communism was internationalist in scope, with the slogan “Worker of the world unite” placing Moscow at the center of a world movement, while National Socialism in Germany was centered around Germans as the master race and culture of the entire world and centered in Berlin.
When the German army occupied Ukraine in WWII more than a few Ukrainians welcomed them believing it would free them of Stalin’s brutal control and that Germany would recognize Ukraine as a country. Soon enough they realized that the Nazis wanted Ukraine for its land to colonize with Germans and its own population was expendable or to be used as slave labor to build the German Reich. This pushed them back into the hands of Moscow and millions served in the Red Army.
Russians had a similar experience. In many parts of Russia, the German army was initially welcomed as liberators from Stalinist rule, over 1 million captured Russian soldiers took up arms again to fight against the Soviets on the side of the Nazis.
We offer this essay without endorsement, but it is an interesting view into how Ukrainians see themselves in this war that is supposedly between two countries both accusing the other of being Nazis. We trust our readers to decide which has the better claim against the other.
І. The Nazi-Styled Information War.
It has been three months since the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine. For over one hundred days, the information space has been overwhelmed with reports on the Russian war crimes and crimes against humanity committed daily. The very first days of this full-scale war saw the Ukrainian and foreign media compare the Russian occupant forces to the “canonical” evil – the nazis (or fascists). The barbarian level of brutality, hypocrisy, cynicism and sexual abuse in the temporarily occupied territories have convinced the world that there is now one more misanthropic totalitarian regime whose ideology and practices are similar to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, such as Nazi Germany during the Second World War. The European politicians now compare the Russian troops’ actions to those of Hitler’s SS divisions. Furthermore, some even suggest that the modern-day Russian nazis have surpassed their German predecessors.
At the same time, however, the Kremlin authorities, led by President Putin, as well as the Russian propaganda talking heads, continue to argue that their “special operation” was set in motion by the need to defeat the “Nazi regime in Kyiv”, to “de-nazify” and “liberate” Ukraine. Nonetheless, Russia’s military crimes are either blatantly ignored or vehemently denied by the Kremlin propaganda, while the blame is laid on the Ukrainian “nazis” and “nationalists” instead. Therefore, an ignorant outside observer, devoid of sufficient critical thinking skills and background knowledge, may suffer from a case of cognitive dissonance. If one takes reports coming from both sides at face value, they may believe that some nazis are fighting some other nazis. This very suggestion is preposterous considering that those “Ukrainian Nazis” and the world’s leading democratic powers, who have never tainted themselves with any sympathies for Hitler, are allies in this war.
These absurd claims of the “Nazis vs Nazis” war, which have flooded the information space already overburdened with fake news, are only the culmination of this years-long propaganda campaign. Ever since the Orange Revolution of 2004, Russia has been feeding the myths about the Ukrainian “nazis”, “fascists”, “nationalists”, and “Banderites” to its people and the world. The more rabid the Russian propaganda becomes, and the more fake horror anecdotes about the “Banderite” monsters it generates, the more fascist, Stalinist, and Nazi-like features Putin’s Russia itself acquires. Vladimir Putin put it perfectly into words when he said, “Whatever you call me is what you are called yourself”. There is nothing to add to his words.
ІІ. Is Ruscism a Russian Form of Fascism or Nazism?
The Academic and Political Debate amid the War.
The Russo-Ukrainian war entered a new phase on February 24, 2022, and evolved into the bloodiest armed conflict in Europe since the Second World War. The Russian “liberators'” barbarian brutality has prompted vigorous academic, political, and public debates around the name, the essence, the characteristics, and the features of this new horrendous, totalitarian, and aggressive regime now challenging Ukraine and the entire world. Ukraine’s academic, expert, journalist, and civil activist communities have introduced the term “Ruscism” into the scientific thesaurus and the Ukrainian language dictionary. They proposed an official definition for Russia’s current regime, its ideology, and practices responsible for the wars of aggression and war crimes in Ukraine, Georgia, the Chechen Republic, Syria, etc. Their initiative received support from the Verkhovna Rada’s Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy. From April through May, historians, political scientists, and political leaders gave a series of interviews to online media outlets, where they formulated their understanding of the essence and the characteristics of “Ruscism”, comparing and contrasting it with other totalitarian ideologies and regimes. Although the term itself is not new, it is only now – when the Russian world has finally begun implementing its ideas into action – that the scientific community launched an academic debate to trace its roots and discover its ideological foundations, to determine similarities and differences between it and fascism, nazism, or Stalinism.
The hypothesis that Russia was constructing its worldview around a unique and rather dangerous ideology was first suggested by Dzhokhar Dudayev, the first president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, in the 1990s. He used a similar term – “Ruscism”,
which he defined as a “particular misanthropic ideology grounded in great-power chauvinism and complete lack of morality.” Dudayev insisted that “Ruscism” is distinct from other forms of fascism, racism, and nationalism because of its exceptional violence against humans and cruelty towards nature. Other features of “Ruscism”, according to Dudayev, include the following: scorched earth tactics; destruction of life as its core principle; schizophrenic megalomania and obsession with global domination; parasitism on false history, on occupied territories, and conquered nations; constant political, legal, judicial, and ideological terrorism.
Dudayev’s theory agreed with the theories suggested by the Western expert community.
Researchers speculate that Vladimir Putin’s ascent to power in Russia has crystalized a stronger ideology, more reminiscent of fascism. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Donbas in 2014 sparked a new debate on how similar the Russian and fascist regimes are.
When Russia invaded Ukraine again on February 24, 2022, both academic and political communities were convinced that “Ruscism” was a common term to describe the “the greatest evil of the 21st century.” Let us introduce a couple of examples selected from over a dozen of the latest definitions for the term “Ruscism”.
Timothy D. Snyder, an American historian, wrote a column titled “The War in Ukraine Has Unleashed a New Word” for the New York Times, where he explained why the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people were using this term to brand the Russian atrocities. He argued that “Ruscism” actually implied “fascism”, with the letter “R” replacing “F” to specify it was “Russian fascism”. He added that Ukraine had been able to spot Russia’s recent inclination to fascism that manifested itself in the personality cult and the cult of the dead, the corporatist state structure, mystified history, censorship, conspiracy theories, centralized propaganda machine, and, eventually, war and destruction. “Even as we rightly debate how applicable the term is to Western figures and parties, we have tended to overlook the central example of fascism’s revival, which is the Putin regime in the Russian Federation,” he wrote.
Petro Oleshchuk, a Ukrainian political scientist, claims that the word “Ruscism” was initially used as a metaphor to link fascism to the Putinist ideology and actions. “But now, this term has established itself as part of a legitimate political argument in Ukraine and abroad,” he adds. One of the regime’s primary characteristics, Petro Oleshchuk suggests, is the cult of force that “is woven into Ruscism.” “I am strong, and it alone makes me right,” he notes. He believes that this cult rejects evolution and civilization (as a “weakness”). It disregards human relationships, morality, and civil norms. “They [the Ruscists] aim to reverse centuries of human progress and return to the comfort of the Paleolithic years, only with advanced tanks and missiles. Ruscism is, in fact, a Paleolithic Age with tanks, missiles, and mansions for the state leaders.”
Professor Mykola Piddiachnyi says, “Ruscism is an imperialistic, authoritarian or totalitarian system of government and regime structure in the Russian Federation, founded by Vladimir Putin, a dictatorial president enjoying 83% of approval among the Russian population (according to Levada Center’s poll from March 24-30, 2022). The Russian regime’s strict oversight of state and public institutions, as well as of private life, deprives the Russian people of the freedom to participate in the country’s political, economic, administrative, cultural, educational, and religious activities. Since the early 21st century, Russians have developed and have been systemically implementing the strategy of a concealed genocide, which meets all the criteria for state-sponsored terrorism. It is an unprecedentedly aggressive and militaristic political strategy that has the elements of fascism, nazism, chauvinism, cyber warfare, and civilizational egoism. All of the above is enough to label Russia as a “terrorist state.”
Wikipedia has recently recorded a higher number of entries on “Ruscism” in multiple languages. The Ukrainian version has the following definition, “Ruscism (deriving from “Russia” and “fascism”) or Russian fascism is a scientific, political, and media term used to describe the political ideology and social practices that have prevailed in the Russian government since the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It rests upon the idea of the Russian people’s “exceptional civilizational mission” and the concept of “national supremacy”. It is intolerant of other nation states’ cultures. It draws on Soviet-style totalitarianism and imperialism and misuses the Russian Orthodox faith as its moral doctrine. It exploits the geopolitical leverages, such as energy resources in Europe and military might in its immediate neighborhood.”
On April 14, 2022, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada passed the law “On the Prohibition of Propaganda of the Russian Nazi Totalitarian Regime, Armed Aggression of the Russian Federation as a Terrorist State against Ukraine, Symbols of the Military Invasion of the Russian Nazi Totalitarian Regime in Ukraine” (Registry No 7214). The President is yet to review it and propose his amendments before the second vote. The law explicitly states, “The political regime in Russia is nazi in its core; its ideology and behavior stem from the totalitarian National Socialist (Nazi) regime.” However, this law omits the term “Ruscism”.
Another draft law, which was registered on May 2, 2022 (No 7338) and has not been considered yet, however, already contains the new term. “Ruscism is a form of National Socialism (Nazism) and a variant of totalitarian, fascist ideology that combines the founding principles of fascism, nazism, and Stalinism. It is used to justify Russia’s barbarian geopolitical ambitions aimed at occupying and annexing foreign territories. It legitimizes a “collection of the Russian lands” cliche and relies on local collaborators and the Russian “fifth column” on the ground.”
Therefore, despite the many definitions for the term that is yet to gain popularity in the academic and political community and to be further clarified, some obvious fascism and nazism connotations persist. There is even a tendency to equate these phenomena (“Ruscism” is a Russian form of fascism or nazism).
Sidenote. Both Ukrainian and foreign schools tend to equate fascism and national socialism (nazism), with the latter being an element or a branch (a subvariant) of the former. When Benito Mussolini rose to power in Italy in 1922, the Italian fascismo, as a political phenomenon, first came into focus. And ever since then, any political movement that resembles the Italian fascismo has been labeled as “fascist.” The German nazis themselves also believed the Italian fascists to share their ideas.
However, many scholars believe that there were some significant ideological contradictions between German nazism and Italian fascismo. For example, nazism did not have the corporatism element central to the Italian fascismo. Instead, it had the racial theory grounded in anti-Semitism that was initially missing from the Italian fascismo.
It explains, the modern-day academic debate around what ideology is more aligned with Ruscism – fascism or nazism. This debate is only relevant in an academic setting if the goal is to study the similarities between the ideologies of Ruscism and Italian fascismo or German nazism. As to the totalitarian “practices”, Ruscism can only be matched by German nazism by the number and scale of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed until February 24, 2022. By this indicator, the Ruscists have had no competition since February 24, 2022.
ІІІ. Similarities and Differences between Ruscism and Nazism.
Many scholars and opinion leaders have compared Ruscism to the totalitarian ideologies and practices of the past. There are both case studies (such as the level of violence and brutality) and complex comparative studies that aim at establishing the similarities between Ruscism and German nazism, Italian fascismo, or Stalinism. Therefore, it is worth bearing in mind what Stanislav Kulchytsky, a leading Ukrainian historian, said: Ruscism is a modernized version of the Russian imperialistic ideology. However, the number of similarities with nazism is far greater.
The most detailed comparative analysis available as of today is a study by Vladlen Marayev and Julia Guz, titled “Ruscism or why Russians are the new Nazis.” It was produced in cooperation with the “VoxUkraine” analytical center and the “History without myths” YouTube channel.
The author’s detail which features Putin’s regime adopts from other totalitarian regimes (Italian fascismo, German nazism, and Stalinism), as well as what worldview the Russian society and the Russian government adhere to. The full text of this study is available here,
Vladlen Marayev and Julia Guz write that the similarities between Russian fascism (Ruscism) and German nazism: are as follows:
- Etatism, Revanchism, and Historical Revisionism
Nazi Germany’s totalitarian propaganda was inherently etatist. It cultivated the idea of a mighty and strong state. Nazi Germany coined the slogan saying, “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer (“One Nation, One Empire, One Leader”).
Putin adopted this principle to build the Russian state that was a federation in name only. In reality, Russia is a rigidly-centralized, unitarian empire ruled by a dictator, who has had no competition in 22 years. It has been systemically exterminating the non-Russian populations (Slavic peoples, first and foremost). Russification has been inevitable provided that Russia has neither education nor media in any minority languages. Nor does it have any civil society or political groups and cultural communities run by the minority populations.
German nazism evolved from the nation’s traumatic defeat in the First World War. Hitler promised to “restore justice” and Germany’s lost greatness, to return the historic lands annexed by its neighbors. He designated Jews and communists to be responsible for Germany’s defeat in the First World War. He cultivated the idea of a “besieged country”, constantly under threat from its hostile neighbors: the capitalist colonial Great Britain and France, as well as the USSR, ruled by Jews and Bolsheviks, whose vast lands should become the “Lebensraum” for the German people.
Similarly, Putin’s regime roots in the traumatic experience of the USSR collapsing. As early as 2005, Putin called the breakup of the Soviet Union “the biggest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century” that resulted in “tens of millions of Russian compatriots waking up outside of the Russian borders.” The Russian society, suffering from the imperialist mentality, perceives that breakup as a catastrophic defeat and a national humiliation (which explains their animosity towards the US, NATO, and the “collective” West, as well as the “Western values” and “liberal democracy”).
Putin’s political goal agrees with that of Hitler: to restore his country’s lost greatness and to return the territories where Russians, Russian speakers, or people loyal to Russia live. Just as Hitler did, Putin believes in the concepts of “self-reliance” (autarky and self-sufficiency) and a “besieged fortress”. An attempt to compensate for the defeat in the Cold War is typical of a Nazi-like revanchism.
- The Cult of Personality
Following in Nazi Germany’s footsteps, Putin’s Russia has been promoting the personality cult of its national leader. Hitler ruled the country from 1933 to 1945. Those years in power dulled his sense of proportion and fostered his belief that he was God’s chosen one, immune to mistakes, and entrusted with a holy historic mission. Hitler’s legal ouster, under such circumstances, was simply impossible.
He had streets, squares, and buildings named after himself. His portraits were everywhere. His propaganda exploited the image of “Führer and the troops” or “Führer and the children“. Hitler’s personality cult relied heavily on masculinity and machismo. The state machine painted Hitler – and now tries to paint Putin – as a brave and resolute warrior (see Putin’s bare-torso photos), capable of bold political actions, who shows no mercy to his enemies and never spares effort to achieve his country’s goals.
In 2014, the German Die Welt newspaper wrote that Putin’s personality cult had grown stronger since his invasion of Ukraine’s East and especially since the occupation of Crimea. Die Welt noted that the more isolated Russia became, the more support for Putin the Russian people displayed. Putin had songs written, music videos recorded, and events held in his name.
The article listed 5 most maddening instances of such public admiration: a lecture and a roundtable dedicated to Vladimir Putin’s connection to God (September 2014, Moscow); the Church of Putin’s witnesses (Kstovsky district in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast); a design for the iPhones by Caviar, an Italian jewelry brand, with Putin’s face and a verse from the Russian national anthem engraved in gold on the rear panel; the “I will kill for Putin” campaign by young women wearing T-shirts with Putin’s portrait; and other merchandise with Putin’s image.
- The Genocide
Nazi Germany had developed the cult of “Aryan” racial supremacy. The Aryans – the “true” Germans – were the Übermenschen or the master race. Whereas others were considered the “Untermenschen” (or racially inferior) – the Jews, Roma, and Slavic people (or the “mongrel”). The Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942, ruled on the complete extermination of the Jewish people. It was the decree on the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” that ordered 6 million people murdered in Holocaust. Other minority groups sentenced to death were the Roma, homosexuals, and people with mental health problems.
Similarly, Putin’s Russia has a supremacy cult that establishes that Russia has a superior (“greater”) culture, language, history, army, economy, and state-building traditions compared to other nations. It propagates those other nations (Ukraine, in particular) have inferior, secondary, provincial, weak, and underdeveloped cultures, languages, and traditions. Such a concept is alive and well among Russians on both personal and national levels and dates back to the times of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.
The two Chechen wars (1994-1996 and 1999-2009) were estimated to have killed from 40,000 to 200,00 civilians. The Russian armed forces also contributed to the genocide in Syria: the Violations Documentation Center in Syria reported 135,000 civilian casualties from mid-March 2011 till November 2020.
The Russian occupant forces have been conducting a premeditated and ideology-driven genocide meant not only to destroy the Ukrainian state but also the Ukrainian people as such. It is evidenced by a policy paper titled “What Russia has to do with Ukraine” that appeared the “RIA Novosti” state-run media outlet and an article by Bogdan Bezpalko, a Russian political scientist, titled “What Siloviki think”. As of May 11, 2022, the crimes the Russian troops committed after their invasion of Ukraine were recognized as “genocide” by the parliaments in the Baltic States, Poland, Canada, the Czech Republic, Ireland, and Ukraine.
- Violations of the International Law (Might Makes Right)
Nazi Germany flagrantly violated the international rules and norms, as well as bilateral and multilateral agreements. The Secret Supplementary Protocol of the Molotov and Ribbentrop Pact of August 23, 1939, paved the way for the Second World War. That document divided the “spheres of interests” in Eastern Europe. It spelled out which countries or entire regions were to be occupied either by Germany or by the USSR. The https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/Molotov%E2%80%93Ribbentrop_Pact_Page_2.jpg. The Non-Aggression Pact (intended to remain in force until 1949) was essentially terminated in the early morning hours on June 22, 1941, when Germany attacked the Soviet Union.
Similarly, Putin’s Russia violated numerous international treaties when it invaded Ukraine first in 2014 and later in 2022.
- The One-party Rule
Nazi Germany had only one legal political party – the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Putin’s Russia also has a one-party system. The United Russia party has held an uncontested parliamentary majority since 2003. It later secured the constitutional majority (over 72%) during the 2021 elections. There are no strong competitors among the Russian opposition. All political parties are either the United Russia’s allies or are too small and insignificant to even pretend to be a “democratic facade”.
- The traditional Gender Roles
Nazi Germany had a cult of family. A man had to be the main breadwinner and patriotically serve his country or occasionally go to war to defend it. A woman’s place was at home, raising children and holding the home front. The propaganda encouraged families to have as many children as possible – the totalitarian country needed soldiers, as many as possible. Career opportunities for women were limited. Homosexual relationships were criminalized. Homosexuals (both male and female) were considered “subhuman” and “mentally impaired” and thus subjected to isolation and sent to prison camps only to be executed later. Some estimations suggest that the Hitler regime killed at least 100,000 homosexual men. The regime deemed them “redundant” since they could not reproduce – to produce more soldiers and more wives.
Putin’s Russia amended its Constitution in the summer of 2020. Article 114 now reads that the state shall have “a single socially-oriented state policy meant to preserve the traditional family values.” Marriage is now recognized exclusively as a union between a man and a woman. In addition, Russia persecutes homosexuals, who live under constant threat of violence.
- Total Control over the Media
Nazi Germany had an unrestricted power over the media. There were no private media outlets. The government’s goal was to isolate the people from any alternative sources of information and establish a monopoly on the daily news agenda.
The same is the case in Putin’s Russia, where independent media had already been destroyed, so the government moved to blocking social media outlets.
- The State Machine of Oppression (Police and Secret Services)
Nazi Germany had the Protection Squads (Schutzstaffel or the SS) report directly to the party leadership, while the secret police (the Gestapo) was put in charge of overseeing all spheres of public life. Any form of opposition was violently persecuted and oppressed. Reporting to the authorities on one’s friends and neighbors was a routine practice. Investigations and trials were held in violation of many human rights and freedoms. Authorities showed no respect for human dignity and often resorted to psychological pressure or outright torture. Death sentences, including public executions, were also quite common.
Putin’s Russia has the Internal Affairs Ministry and the FSB, who also enjoy arbitrary powers over the people. Any attempt at civil unrest is prosecuted, while protesters face arrest and criminal charges. There were precedents when people were tried for social media posts or even likes. Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of the Security Council and the chairman of the United Russia party, recently flirted with the idea of re-introducing the death sentence.
Among the symbols marking the Russian military hardware in Ukraine, the most popular are the “Z” and “V” letters. The same insignia was used during the Second World War. Letter “Z” was reserved for the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division, which was engaged in combat missions in France, the Soviet Union, Greece, Hungary, Poland, and Germany itself. Those SS forces committed atrocious crimes against the local populations. The “Z” character was inspired by the Runic alphabet and the letter “Wolfsangel” meaning “wolf hook”. Throughout history, this symbol was associated with violence, unlimited tyrannic power and hatred, nationalism and nazism. The Wolfsangel stylized horizontal variants were also adopted by the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich and the 34th SS Grenadier Division Landstorm Nederland staffed by volunteers from Denmark and the Netherlands. Both divisions were responsible for violent crimes against the civilian populations.
The V-shaped symbol was the “Honor Chevron for the Old Guard”, a decoration for the oldest members of the SS. Only those who had joined the party organization before January 30, 1933, the day Hitler rose to power, were entitled to wear it.
However, until recently, these facts about symbolism or “Z” and “V” in Nazi Germany were only known to historians. For most people, these were simply some meaningless Latin characters or brand logos. Today, Russia uses the “Z” and “V” letters not only to mark its military hardware but also to formally represent its “special operation” in Ukraine. It comes up with fancy explanations for these symbols: Z – За победу” (To the Victory), “V – Сила в правде” (Power is Truth), “demilitariZation”, etc.).
Both “Z” and “V” are used by government agencies and private individuals to show their support for the aggression. “Z” appeared on the facade of the Tabakov Studio Theatre in Moscow. A Russian gymnast wore it to a sports competition. Drivers put it up for a motorcade and formed the letters with their cars. “Z” and “V” were edited onto the social media avatars. They quickly became the symbolic indicators of one’s approval of mass murder and military aggression. These two Latin characters now represent the new evil, with the letter “Z”, in particular, being the Kremlin’s favorite neo-nazi substitute for the swastika.
The study by Vladlen Marayev and Julia Guz, as well as one of the episodes of “History without myths” on this very topic (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW3nQrg_Cuk), both mentioned some further similarities between Nazi Germany and Putinist Russia. They include militarized societies, aggressive foreign policy, Blitzkrieg ambitions (the glorious and victorious wars of invasion), inability to assess one’s military potential, investments into the fifth column in foreign countries, referendums to legitimize the annexation, false casus belli, zero concern for human lives, involving children and adolescents in totalitarian practices.
The above-mentioned elements of both Ruscism and nazism are characteristic of Italian fascismo. There were many such examples in Benito Mussolini’s, il Duce’s, fascist Italy. However, nazism did not have such a strong connection between state and church, which brings Ruscism closer to Italian fascismo. Mussolini’s Italy revered the Catholic Church. In 1929, the Lateran Pact was signed; the Vatican City State was established, and Pope Pius XI endorsed Mussolini’s aggressive ambitions.
Putin’s Russia treats the Russian Orthodox Church as one of its service agencies, which is entirely behind its militaristic foreign policy. Patriarch Kirill did not condemn the war and also endorsed Putin’s militant rhetoric. Kirill had previously spent years pushing the Kremlin propaganda.
- The “Schizofascism” Phenomenon.
It has already become obvious that Ruscism shares multiple similarities with nazism and other totalitarian ideologies. The question is whether there is anything that makes it unique. The decades to come will see Ukrainian and foreign academics debate this question, trying to agree on the characteristics unique to the Ruscist ideology and its misanthropic practices.
However, scholars have already discovered at least one peculiarity. Timothy D. Snyder writes that since “Putin speaks of fascists as the enemy, we might find it hard to grasp that he could, in fact, be fascist.” “But in Russia’s war on Ukraine, “Nazi” just means “subhuman enemy” – someone Russians can kill. Hate speech directed at Ukrainians makes it easier to murder them, as we see in Bucha, Mariupol, and every part of Ukraine that has been under Russian occupation. Mass graves are not some accident of war, but an expected consequence of a fascist war of destruction. Fascists calling other people “fascists” is fascism taken to its illogical extreme as a cult of unreason. It is a final point where hate speech inverts reality and propaganda is pure insistence. It is the apogee of will over thought. Calling others fascists while being a fascist is the essential Putinist practice. Jason Stanley, an American philosopher, calls it “undermining propaganda.” I have called it “schizofascism”. The Ukrainians have the most elegant formulation. They call it “ruscism.”
Neither Hitler nor Mussolini was waging wars against allegedly fascist countries. Russia’s nazi and totalitarian regime is the only one fighting the “nazis” in Ukraine – history knows no such precedents. It appears that the Kremlin and its propaganda talking heads are completely detached from reality and have already developed a severe case of schizophrenia. Statements coming from Putin, Lavrov, Medvedev, Peskov, and Shoigu, as well as other Russian government officials, testify to that.
Ukraine has 40 allies in its fight against Russia’s aggression. Their support renders the Russian propaganda’s attempts to convince the world that Ukraine has a nazi-led government futile. It resembles a mental patient’s struggle to persuade a psychiatric board that he is the only sane one in the room. This case of schizophrenia distinguishes the Ruscist government and ideologists, who continue to put the “fascist” and “nazi” label on any Ukrainian resisting the Russian invasion.