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A combination of Saint George's ribbon and the letter Z, two symbols associated with Ruscism. The combination of these symbols has been compared to the Nazi swastika, and is sometimes called the "zwastika".[1][2]

Ruscism[a] (also known as Rashism or Russian fascism)[b] is a neologism[3][4] and derogatory term used by a number of scholars, politicians and publicists[5] to describe the political ideology and the social practices of the Russian state in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, especially during the rule of Vladimir Putin. It is also used in reference to the ideology of Russian military expansionism,[6][7][1][8] and has been used as a label to describe an undemocratic system and nationality cult mixed with ultranationalism and a cult of personality.[9][10] That transformation was described as based on the ideas of the "special civilizational mission" of the Russians, such as Moscow as the third Rome and expansionism,[11][12][13] which manifests itself in anti-Westernism and supports regaining former lands by conquest.[14][15][16] Ukrainian officials and media often use 'Rashist' to broadly refer to members and backers of the Russian Armed Forces.[17][18]

The term's current usage originated in 1995 during the First Chechen War, but it became more prevalent after the Russo-Georgian and Russo-Ukrainian wars, and especially during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


"Ruscism," "Rashism," and "Russism" are portmanteaus combining 'Russia' and 'fascism'.[19] They transliterate the term, reflecting English, Ukrainian, and Russian pronunciations.[20][21]

History of the use of the term[edit]

Chechen wars[edit]

The term was, in the form Russism (Russian: русизм, romanizedrusizm) popularized, described and extensively used in 1995 by President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria Dzhokhar Dudayev, who saw the military action by Russia in Chechnya as a manifestation of the rising ideology.[22][23][24] According to Dudayev, Ruscism is

a variety of hatred ideology which is based on Great Russian chauvinism, spiritlessness and immorality. It differs from other forms of fascism, racism, and nationalism by a more extreme cruelty, both to man and to nature. It is based on the destruction of everything and everyone, the tactics of scorched earth. Ruscism is a schizophrenic variety of the world domination complex. This is a distinct version of slave psychology, it grows like a parasite on the fabricated history, occupied territories and oppressed peoples.[25]

The term was later used by the next president of the Chechen Republic, Aslan Maskhadov who considered Ruscism a variety of fascism, but more dangerous than fascism and existing during the last 200 years.[26] The Chechen news website Kavkaz Center featured a regular column titled "Russism", in which around 150 articles were published between 2003 and 2016.[26]

Russo-Ukrainian war[edit]

March in memory of assassinated Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, 27 February 2016. Sight from the inside. "Let's stop Ruscism" (Russian: "Остановим рашизм")

The term Ruscism/Rashism (Russian: рашизм, romanizedrashizm, Ukrainian: рашизм, romanizedrashyzm) became increasingly common in Ukrainian media after the annexation of the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation,[27] the downing of a Boeing 777 near Donetsk on 17 July 2014, and the start of the Russo-Ukrainian War in 2014.[28][29][30] It appears in the Russian-language song "That's, Baby, Ruscism! [Orthodox Fascism!]" by Ukrainian composer and singer-songwriter Boris Sevastyanov.[26]

The Committee of the Verkhovna Rada on Humanitarian and Information Policy supports the initiative of Ukrainian scientists, journalists, political scientists and all civil society to promote and recognize the term "Ruscism" at the national and international levels.[31]

Russian invasion of Ukraine[edit]

A destroyed Russian MT-LB with a Z symbol during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Z symbol is widely used by the Russian Armed Forces.
A poster against Ruscism in a pro-Ukraine protest in London's Trafalgar Square

By 2022, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, terms like Rashyzm and Rashyst were widely used by Ukrainian military, political, and media circles.[32][33] Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council Secretary, prominently advocated for "Ruscism" to describe Russia's aggression,[34] asserting it as worse than fascism:

Today, I would like to appeal to all journalists to use the term 'Ruscism,' because it is a new phenomenon in world history that Mr. Putin has created with his country. These are modern-day ruscists, who are little different from fascists, and in fact, have surpassed them. I'll explain why: previously, there was no capability to destroy cities with such a quantity of aerial bombs and equipment; there was not such power. Now, there are entirely different capacities, and they are using them in an inhumane way.[35]

On 23 April 2022, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that a new concept called "Ruscism" will be in history books:[36][37]

This country will have a word in our history textbooks that no one has invented, which everyone is repeating in Ukraine and in Europe – 'Ruscism'. It's not just random that everyone is saying that this is Ruscism. The word is new, but the actions are the same as they were 80 years ago in Europe. Because for all of these 80 years, if you analyse our continent, there has been no barbarism like this. So Ruscism is a concept that will go into the history books, it will be in Wikipedia, it will be [studied] in classes. And small children around the world will stand up and answer their teachers when they ask when Ruscism began, in what land, and who won the fight for freedom against this terrible concept.[37]

On May 2, 2023, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine officially recognized Ruscism as the state ideology of Russia.[38][39][40][41] According to the Rada's definition, Ruscism is "militarism, cult of the leader's personality and sacralisation of state institutions, self-glorification of the Russian Federation through violent oppression and / or denial of the existence of other ethnicities, the imposition of the Russian language and culture on other peoples, propaganda of the ‘Russian world doctrine’, systemic violation of norms and principles of the international law, sovereign rights of other countries, their territorial integrity, and internationally recognised borders".[38]

On May 22, 2023, NATO Parliamentary Assembly officially used the term Ruscism to describe the ideology and practices of Russia in Declaration 482, article 20.[42] Currently, this term is widely used in various international anti-war activities, for example in the "Stop Ruscism" Manifesto.[43]

On March 7, 2024, American President Joe Biden has given the 2024 State of the Union Address where he compared Russia under Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler's conquests of Europe.[44]

Ideological history[edit]

Ivan Ilyin[edit]

Timothy D. Snyder of Yale University believes that the ideology of Putin and his regime was influenced by Russian nationalist philosopher Ivan Ilyin (1883–1954).[10][45][46][47][48] A number of Ilyin's works advocated fascism.[45] Ilyin has been quoted by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, and is considered by some observers to be a major ideological inspiration for Putin.[49][50][51][52][53][54][55] Putin was personally involved in moving Ilyin's remains back to Russia, and in 2009 consecrated his grave.[56]

According to Snyder, Ilyin "provided a metaphysical and moral justification for political totalitarianism" in the form of a fascist state, and that today "his ideas have been revived and celebrated by Vladimir Putin".[57]

Ilyin's book, Our Tasks was in 2013 recommended as essential reading for state officials by the Russian government, while What Dismemberment of Russia Would Mean for the World is said to have been "read and reread" by Putin according to The Economist.[58]

Aleksandr Dugin[edit]

Speech of Dugin to Western journalists in March 2022 where he narrated that "We are not a part of the global civilization. We are a civilization by our own. We had no other possibility to prove that without attacking Ukraine"

In 1997, Russian thinker Aleksandr Dugin, widely known for fascistic views,[59][60] published The Foundations of Geopolitics: The Geopolitical Future of Russia, a book believed to have garnered significant impact among Russia's military, police and foreign policy elites.[61][62] In it, he argued that Ukraine should be annexed by Russia because "Ukraine as a state has no geopolitical meaning", "no particular cultural import or universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness", that "[its] certain territorial ambitions represen[t] an enormous danger for all of Eurasia and, without resolving the Ukrainian problem, it is in general senseless to speak about continental politics". He argued that Ukraine should not be allowed to remain independent, unless it is "sanitary cordon", which would be "inadmissible".[61] The book may have been influential in Vladimir Putin's foreign policy, which eventually led to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[63] Also in 1997, Dugin hailed what he saw as the arrival of a "genuine, true, radically revolutionary and consistent, fascist fascism" in Russia, in an article titled "Fascism – Borderless and Red"; previously in 1992, he had in another article defended "fascism" as not having anything to do with "the racist and chauvinist aspects of National Socialism", stating in contrast that "Russian fascism is a combination of natural national conservatism with a passionate desire for true changes."[64] Another of Dugin's books, The Fourth Political Theory, published in 2009, has been cited as an inspiration for Russian policy in events such as the war in Donbas,[65] and for the contemporary European far-right in general.[66]

Although there is a dispute on the extent of the personal relationship between Dugin and Putin, Dugin's influence exists broadly in Russian military and security circles.[67] He became a lecturer at the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia in the 1990s, and his Foundations of Geopolitics has become part of the curriculum there, as well as in several other military/police academies and institutions of higher learning. According to John B. Dunlop of the Hoover Institution, "[t]here has perhaps not been another book published in Russia during the post-communist period that has exerted an influence on Russian military, police, and foreign policy elites comparable to that of [...] Foundations of Geopolitics."[67]

Timofey Sergeitsev[edit]

According to Euractiv, Russian political operative Timofey Sergeitsev is "one of the ideologists of modern Russian fascism".[68]

During the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, when the victims of the massacres in Kyiv Oblast became known,[69][70] the website of the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti published an article by Sergeitsev titled "What Russia Should Do with Ukraine", which was perceived to justify a Ukrainian genocide. It calls for repression, de-Ukrainization, de-Europeanization, and ethnocide of the Ukrainians.[71][72][73][74][75][76] According to Oxford expert on Russian affairs Samuel Ramani, the article "represents mainstream Kremlin thinking".[77] The head of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs called the article "ordinary fascism".[78] Timothy D. Snyder described it as a "genocide handbook", and he also described it as "one of the most openly genocidal documents I have ever seen".[79]

Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)[edit]

Patriarch Kirill sitting alongside Dmitry Medvedev during Vladimir Putin's speech on 21 February 2023

The Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) officially deems the invasion of Ukraine to be a "holy war".[80][81][82] During the World Russian People's Council in March 2024, it approved a document stating that this "holy war" was to defend "Holy Russia" and to protect the world from globalism and the West, which it said had "fallen into Satanism".[80] The document further stated that all of Ukraine should come under Russia's sphere of influence, and that Ukrainians and Belarusians "should be recognised only as sub-ethnic groups of the Russians".[80] Patriarch Kirill also issued a prayer for victory in the war.[83]

In late 2022, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) performed searches in churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in multiple Ukrainian cities and oblasts.[84] During these actions the SSU discovered among other things manuals from Patriarch Kirill on how propaganda can be spread through parishioners, as well as pro-Kremlin literature (e.g. by ideologist Ivan Ilyin).[84]

Vladislav Surkov[edit]

Surkov giving a speech to the Nashi Youth Movement, dubbed the group "Putinjugend" ("Putin Youth")[85][86]

From 1999 to February 2020 Vladislav Surkov was an influential Russian politician and was dubbed the ‘Grey Cardinal’ and the Kremlin's main ideologist and also was commonly regarded as the mastermind of Putin's policies towards Ukraine.[87] He was First Deputy Chief of the Russian Presidential Administration from 1999 to 2011. From December 2011 until May 2013, Surkov served as the Russian Federation's Deputy Prime Minister.[88][89] After his resignation, Surkov returned to the Presidential Executive Office and became a personal adviser of Putin on relationships with Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Ukraine.[90] Surkov helped create some pro-government youth movements, including Nashi Youth Movement, and met with their leaders and participants several times and gave them lectures on the political situation.[91][92] Nashi Youth Movement has been compared by British journalist Edward Lucas as the Putin government's version of the Soviet-era Komsomol.[93] Surkov was removed from his duties in the Presidential Executive Office by presidential order in February 2020.[94]

On 26 February 2020, Surkov gave an interview to Aktualnyie kommentarii where he acknowledged that he was primarily involved with Donbas and Ukraine, but since the "context" had changed he decided to leave.[95] During the same interview in 2020 Surkov stated that "There is no Ukraine. There is Ukrainian-ness," Surkov said. "That is, it is a specific disorder of the mind, sudden passion for ethnography, taken to its extremes. ... Local history there is so bloody. It's a muddle instead of a state...there is no nation. There is only a pamphlet: 'The Self-Styled Ukraine,' but there is no Ukraine. The only question is, is Ukraine already gone, or not just yet? ... Coercion to fraternal relations by force is the only method that has historically proven its effectiveness in the Ukrainian direction. I do not think that some other will be invented".[95][96][87][97]

Vladimir Putin[edit]

Russian president Vladimir Putin is known for denying Ukrainian statehood (e.g. by claiming that Ukraine never had "real statehood") and for claims that Ukraine was an integral part of Russia per history, culture, and spiritual space, thus is intrinsically Russian, while according to him modern Ukraine is a creation of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin.[98][99] Moreover, Putin admitted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was started to "reclaim" Russian land.[100]

On 2 May 2023, the Verkhovna Rada has officially defined Putin's political rule as Ruscism and condemned its ideological foundations.[101]

Dmitry Medvedev[edit]

Protester against the Russian government holding an image portraying Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin as Nazis with a swastika made of colours of the Ribbon of Saint George and a Russian coat of arms in the centre, Odesa, 2014

During the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia and former Russian president, has been described as a "Russian rashist (Russian fascist)" and "Kremlin's Nazi" by Ukrainian and American media.[102] He publicly wrote that "Ukraine is NOT a country, but artificially collected territories" and that Ukrainian "is NOT a language" but a "mongrel dialect" of Russian.[103] Medvedev has also said that Ukraine should not exist in any form and that Russia will continue to wage war against any independent Ukrainian state.[104] According to Medvedev, the "existence of Ukraine is fatally dangerous for Ukrainians and that they will understand that life in a large common state is better than death. Their deaths and the deaths of their loved ones. And the sooner Ukrainians realize this, the better".[105] On 22 February 2024, Medvedev described the future plans of Russia in the Russian invasion of Ukraine when he claimed that the Russian Army will go further into Ukraine, taking the southern city of Odesa and may again push on to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, and stated that "Where should we stop? I don't know".[106] According to Medvedev, Ukrainian capital Kyiv is a "Russian city" and that "we have long desired Odesa in the Russian Federation. Even by virtue of the history of this city, the kind of people who live there, the language they speak, it is our Russian city."[107][108]

In 2023, Medvedev threatened to annex the territories of the self-proclaimed republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.[109]

On 4 March 2024, during a festival in Sochi, Medvedev stated that "One of Ukraine's former leaders once said Ukraine is not Russia. That concept needs to disappear forever" and declared that "Ukraine is definitely Russia".[110][111] With these words Medvedev referred to former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma's 2003 book Ukraine Is Not Russia.[110] In November 2023, Kuchma presented his new book Ukraine is Not Russia: Twenty Years Later.[112]

Views on development of Rashism[edit]

Flash mob at the Platinum Arena in Khabarovsk on 11 March 2022, organized by the Central District Management Committee and the United Russia party as part of the "We don't abandon our own" (Своих Не Бросаем) campaign. Attendees including Young Guard of United Russia members and local residents arrange themselves in "Z" symbol formation.
A mosaic in the Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces blending Eastern Orthodox iconography with Soviet military symbolism

According to The Economist, as a political calculation in response to his waning popularity in the early 2010s, Vladimir Putin began to draw more heavily on post-Soviet fascist thinking, concepts which emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union.[58] According to Mark Lipovetsky, the ruscism has become "the cultural mainstream of Putinist Russia".[113] In 2007, the first post-Soviet Prime Minister of Russia Yegor Gaidar warned about the rise of post-imperial nostalgia, stating that "Russia is going through a dangerous phase", and making a reference to history by stating "[w]e should not succumb to the magic of numbers but the fact that there was a 15-year gap between the collapse of the German Empire and Adolf Hitler's rise to power and 15 years between the collapse of the USSR and Russia in 2006–07 makes one think".[58]

In 2014, Boris Nemtsov criticized what he perceived as a turn towards "cultivating and rewarding the lowest instincts in people, provoking hatred and fighting" by the Russian regime, stating in his final interview – hours before his assassination – that "Russia is rapidly turning into a fascist state. We already have propaganda modelled after Nazi Germany. We also have a nucleus of assault brigades ... That's just the beginning."[58] Alexander Yakovlev, architect of democratic reforms under Mikhail Gorbachev, made statements about the connection between the security services and fascism, stating "[t]he danger of fascism in Russia is real because since 1917 we have become used to living in a criminal world with a criminal state in charge. Banditry, sanctified by ideology—this wording suits both communists and fascists."[58]

Several scholars have posited that Russia has transformed into a fascist state, or that fascism best describes the Russian political system, especially following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. In 2017, Russian academician Vladislav Inozemtsev considered that Russia is an early-stage fascist state, thus claiming the current Russian political regime as fascist.[114] Tomasz Kamusella, a Polish scholar on nationalism and ethnicity, and Allister Heath, a journalist at The Daily Telegraph, describe the current authoritarian Russian political regime as Putin's fascism.[115][116] Political scientist Maria Snegovaya believes that Russia as led by Putin is a fascist regime.[117]

In March 2022, Yale historian Odd Arne Westad said that Putin's words about Ukraine resembled, which Harvard journalist James F. Smith summarized, "some of the colonial racial arguments of imperial powers of the past, ideas from the late 19th and early 20th century".[118]

In April 2022, Larysa Yakubova [uk] from the Institute of History of Ukraine in her article "The Anatomy of Ruscism" stated that Russia has never reflected on the tragedies of totalitarianism and did not decommunize its own Soviet totalitarian heritage unlike Ukraine. According to her, that was the major reason for the formation and rapid development of Ruscism in modern Russia both among political and intellectual/cultural elites. She also noted that Ruscism, in the form of a threat to the world order and peace, will remain until there is "a global condemnation of communist/bolshevik ideology as well as its heir – Ruscism and Putinism."[119]

On 24 April 2022, Timothy D. Snyder published an article in The New York Times Magazine where he described the history, premises and linguistic peculiarities of the term "Ruscism".[3] According to Snyder, the term "is a useful conceptualization of Putin's worldview", writing that "we have tended to overlook the central example of fascism's revival, which is the Putin regime in the Russian Federation".[3] On the wider regime, Snyder writes that "[p]rominent Russian fascists are given access to mass media during wars, including this one. Members of the Russian elite, above all Putin himself, rely increasingly on fascist concepts", and states that "Putin's very justification of the war in Ukraine [...] represents a Christian form of fascism."[3]

Snyder followed this article in May with an essay titled "We Should Say It. Russia Is Fascist".[10] According to Snyder, "[m]any hesitate to see today's Russia as fascist because Stalin's Soviet Union defined itself as antifascist", stating that the key to understanding Russia today is "Stalin's flexibility about fascism": "Because Soviet anti-fascism just meant defining an enemy, it offered fascism a backdoor through which to return to Russia [...] Fascists calling other people 'fascists' is fascism taken to its illogical extreme as a cult of unreason. [...] [It is] the essential Putinist practice".[10] Based on this, Snyder refers to Putin's regime as schizo-fascism,[120][10] a term that was also used by Mikhail Epstein who defined the "schizofascism" in Russia or "fascism disguised as a struggle against fascism" as a "worldview that combines the theory of moral, ethnic or racial superiority, divine mission, imperialism, nationalism, xenophobia, aspiration to superpower, anti-capitalism, anti-democracy, anti-liberalism."[121]

In an April 2022 discussion, historian Niall Ferguson stated that in his view, "one can compare the regime that now exists in Russia with a fascist regime", going on to assert that "there is this toxic cocktail of Russian nationalism, orthodoxy and imperial nostalgia in the Putin Weltanschauung—world view—which is distinctly fascistic. And if you watch the recent rally in the Moscow soccer stadium, that was a fascist event. And moreover, if you look at the way the Russian troops are conducting themselves in Ukraine, it looks an awful lot like fascism in action — not least the appalling scenes that we've now seen in film clips from Bucha ... Somehow or other, Russia has ended up as a fascist regime, with a fascist ideology and fascist modes of operations."[122] In the same discussion, economist John H. Cochrane also contended that Russia under Putin has "the same fascist economic model as the fascist regimes, a nominally private industry run by a bunch of oligarch kleptocrats with their own little monopoly sources, who trade vast wealth for political support of the regime."[122]

In July 2022, Japanese-American political scientist Francis Fukuyama stated that Putin's regime in Russia more than anything resembles to that of Nazi Germany whose only ideology is extreme nationalism, but it is at the same time "less institutionalised and revolves only around one man Vladimir Putin".[123]

In an February 2023 interview with independent Russian-language newspaper Meduza, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek stated his opinion that "[t]he ideology of people around Putin, and Putin himself, seems quite clear-cut. It's Neo-Fascism. They don't use this term, but the entire framework of Russian imperialist views — with the right to aggressively expand the state borders, the internal politics with regard to oligarchs, etc. — this mindset is the core of what we would call Neo-Fascism."[124]


The countries of the Warsaw Pact, the main bloc of Soviet imperialism
The Russian Empire in 1867, including Alaska
One element of Rashism is irredentism, revanchism and a desire to restore Russia to a perceived "former glory". Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2005 called the dissolution of the Soviet Union "a genuine tragedy" for the Russian people, as "tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory", and as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century".[125]
Portraits of Vladimir Putin as commodities in the office supplies section of a Moscow bookshop in 2006
A 2007 photo of a shirtless Putin fishing in Tuva published on the official website of the Russian President as part of Putin's campaign for the 2008 Russian presidential election

In 2017, Yuliia Strebkova of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute indicated that Ruscism in combination with Ukrainophobia constitutes the ethno-national vector of the more broad Russian neo-imperial ideological doctrine of "Russian world".[126]

In 2018, Borys Demyanenko (Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi State Pedagogical University) in his paper "'Ruscism' as a quasi-ideology of the post-Soviet imperial revenge" defined Ruscism as a misanthropic ideology and an eclectic mixture of imperial neocolonialism, great-power chauvinism, nostalgia for the Soviet past, and religious traditionalism. Demyanenko considers that in internal domestic policy, Ruscism manifests itself in a violation of human rights along with a freedom of thought, persecution of dissidents, propaganda, ignoring of democratic procedures. While in foreign policy, Ruscism demonstrates itself in a violation of international law, imposing its own version of historical truth, the justification of occupation and annexation of the territories of other states.[127]

Political scientist Stanislav Belkovsky argues that Ruscism is disguised as anti-fascism, but has a fascist face and essence.[128] Political scientist Ruslan Kliuchnyk notes that the Russian elite considers itself entitled to build its own "sovereign democracy" without reference to Western standards, but taking into account Russia's traditions of state-building. Administrative resources in Russia are one of the means of preserving the democratic facade, which hides the mechanism of absolute manipulation of the will of citizens.[129] Russian political scientist Andrey Piontkovsky argues that the ideology of Ruscism is in many ways similar to Nazism, with the speeches of President Vladimir Putin reflecting similar ideas to those of Adolf Hitler.[130][131]

According to Alexander J. Motyl, an American historian and political scientist, Russian fascism has the following characteristics:[132]

  • An undemocratic political system, different from both traditional authoritarianism and totalitarianism;
  • Statism and hypernationalism;
  • A hypermasculine cult of the supreme leader (emphasis on his courage, militancy and physical prowess);
  • General popular support for the regime and its leader.

According to Professor Oleksandr Kostenko [uk], Ruscism is an ideology that is "based on illusions and justifies the admissibility of any arbitrariness for the sake of misinterpreted interests of Russian society. In foreign policy, Ruscism manifests itself, in particular, in violation of the principles of international law, imposing its version of historical truth on the world solely in favor of Russia, abusing the right of veto in the UN Security Council, and so on. In domestic politics, Ruscism is a violation of human rights to freedom of thought, persecution of members of the 'dissent movement', the use of the media to misinform their people, and so on." Oleksandr Kostenko also considers Ruscism a manifestation of sociopathy.[133]

Timothy D. Snyder argued in an essay that a "time traveler from the 1930s" would "have no difficulty" identifying the Russian regime in 2022 as fascist, writing:

The symbol Z, the rallies, the propaganda, the war as a cleansing act of violence and the death pits around Ukrainian towns make it all very plain. The war against Ukraine is not only a return to the traditional fascist battleground, but also a return to traditional fascist language and practice. Other people are there to be colonized. Russia is innocent because of its ancient past. The existence of Ukraine is an international conspiracy. War is the answer.[10]

Boris Kagarlitsky describes the reigime as "Post-Fascism", a logical outcome of "neoliberalism and postmodernism", lacking "the goal of the totalitarian-corporate reorganization of capitalism" that Fascism had, when "the system is unable to build a workable totalitarian machine that corresponds to" its "totalitarian ideology and rhetoric" as the industrial system of the first half of the 20th century no longer exists; it is a "product of the... degradation of late Soviet society combined with the degradation of late capitalism", which "suggests not integration but fragmentation of society", so the regime follows not "a coherent worldview", but "a haphazard pasting together of ideas, scraps of concepts and randomly assembled images."[134]

Ilya Budraitskis cites the definition of "post-fascism" by the definition of Enzo Traverso: unlike Fascism of the 20th-century, which was a "movement", the "modern fascism" is a "move" made from above, as by Traverso's definition, "post-fascism... no longer needs mass movements or a more or less coherent ideology. It seeks to affirm social inequality and the subordination of the lower classes to the higher classes as unconditional as the only possible reality and the only credible law of society." Budraitskis believes that "Russian society... has consistently been reduced to a state of silent victimhood, a malleable material from which a full-fledged fascist regime can be built."[135]

Russian sociologist Grigory Yudin emphasized the importance of the social atomization and depoliticisation of Soviet society during the "Era of Stagnation" and later during the rule by Putin, followed by the mobilization of Russian society to attack Ukraine in 2022. According to him, all historical Fascist regimes also atomized the societies to mobilize them. He also says that the image of general popular support for Putin is false and that it's being used by Putin to threaten the elites and the people: the elites fear that 'the people' will support repressions against them, while individuals of the atomized society fear that if they express their disagreement, they will alone confront the non-existent "people masses".[136][137] Kagarlitsky argued that the term "molecurization" is more adequate, as the society is split not into atoms, but into "molecules – households, which can be considered the last historical form of existence of the Russian community."[138]

Tomasz Kamusella highlights the important and often overlooked role of Russian language in Ruscism when the government of Russia claims that all Russian speakers must be "protected" by expanding Russia's territorial borders until they fully overlap with this perceived "Russian world" or Greater Russia. Simultaneously, the existence of Russian-speaking communities in countries such as Belarus and Ukraine has been used to claim that Belarus and Ukraine are "pseudo-states", because Belarusian and Ukrainian are not "real languages". According to Kamusella, ethnolinguistic nationalism officially became part of the Russian government's ideology in 2007 with the creation of the Russkiy Mir Foundation, while the weaponization of Russian language and culture and transition of it from an element of soft power to hard power took place after the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.[139]

Reactions in Russia[edit]

A shirt with a Z-shaped symbol that reads "I'm not ashamed" (Russian: #мненестыдно)

In 2014, Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin, who holds pro-Putin views, publicly called himself a "Rashist" and made a tattoo "as a sign that I'm a Rashist, I'll live as a Rashist and I'll die as a Rashist".[140] In 2015, he released a series of wristwatches with Chi Rho and the text "I am Rashist" (Russian: я рашист, romanizedya rashist) on the clock face, written with a Gothic font, and with "Not only Crimea's ours – everything's ours!" on the back.[141] The term was also embraced by Russian nationalist Yegor Kholmogorov who published an article titled "Russism. Choosing Putin", in which he broke down Russism into three components: "Russia is above all. Russia is a state of Russians. The Lord is with Russia and the Russians".[26]

Russian economist Yakov Mirkin said that the term "Rashizm" is incorrect because it equates the entire Russian nation with "the ideology that brings trouble". He noted that as Nazism has never been called "Germanism" and Italian fascism has never been called "Italism", Putin's ideology should be called "as you wish", with "the most cruel nicknames", but not "Rashizm".[142]

Artyom Yefimov wrote in Signal (email-based media created by Meduza) that although the word "Rashizm" was created in Ukraine as an emotional cliché, it may become a real term, as history knows examples of pejoratives being turned into real terms (e.g. Tory and Slavophilia). In Ukraine, he writes, it has been used in scientific works since 2014 (although rarely in scientific publications of other countries).[142][143]

Oleg Tinkov, a Russian entrepreneur stated he hoped others would "follow my example and stop working for fascism" after renouncing his Russian citizenship after the 2022 invasion.[144]

In 2023, Oleg Orlov, the chairman of the Board of Human Rights Center "Memorial", said that Russia under Putin had descended into fascism and that the army is committing "mass murder".[145][146]

Russian government and state media reactions[edit]

Monument in Yekaterinburg dedicated to Z symbol, which was widely used since February 2022 during the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Russian television presenter Tina Kandelaki, who supported Russia's war against Ukraine,[147][148] criticized Wikipedia's use of the term "Rashizm" on her Telegram channel, accusing Wikipedia of "digital fascism" targeting Russian people and calling Russians to stop using it.[149]

Russia's federal censor Roskomnadzor reportedly ordered the English Wikipedia on 18 May 2022 to take down the articles "Rashizm" and "2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine", asserting that they contain false information about the war the Russian government calls a "special military operation".[150][151] After Wikimedia Foundation refused to do so, a Moscow court imposed a 88,000 USD fine, a decision that the foundation has appealed.[152][153]

On 20 May 2022, during the show Evening with Vladimir Solovyov, the host Vladimir Solovyov and his panelists responded with outrage at Timothy D. Snyder's article "We Should Say It. Russia Is Fascist", an article which according to Russian media watchdog Julia Davis has "spread through Russian state media like wildfire". Solovyov attacked Snyder by calling him a "pseudo-professor of a pseudo-university" and "simply a liar", and, addressing Americans, stating: "Let me tell you a secret: first of all, your signs are idiotic in their nature. Secondly, looking at your listed indications, how are they any different from the election campaign of Donald Trump?"[154]


Historian Stanley G. Payne said that "Putin's Russia "is not equivalent to the fascist regimes of World War II, but it forms the nearest analogue to fascism found in a major country since that time" and "it is not the product of any revolutionary movement or ideology -- fascist or otherwise. It has developed the characteristics of what some political analysts have called a 'mafia state,' though under centralized personal dictatorship.".[155] He believes that the political system in Russia is "more a revival of the creed of Tsar Nicholas I in the 19th century that emphasized 'Orthodoxy, autocracy, and nationality' than one resembling the revolutionary, modernizing regimes of Hitler and Mussolini."[155]

Historian Roger Griffin notes that unlike the Fascist dictators who gave themselves absolute dictatorial authority, Putin prefers to manipulate "the trappings of the proto-democratic system", pretending to "defend and guarantee the Russian Constitution" and making amendments to it instead of completely rejecting it. Griffin believes compared Russia to the militarist Japan that "emulated fascism in many ways, but was not fascist", according to him.[155]

According to postdoctoral fellow Maria Snegovaya, Russian "extremely passive and atomized" society passively accepts Putin's ideas, but doesn't actively embrace them because Russia is a post-totalitarian society that has "a very bad experience of mobilizing around big ideas". She also said that "[Putin's Russia] lacks a vision of the future. Russia complains about the existing international order and Russia's place in it, but it does not have any alternative vision."[155]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also Rashism (Ukrainian: рашизм, romanizedrashyzm) or Russism (Russian: русизм, romanizedrusizm)
  2. ^ Ukrainian: російський фашизм; Russian: российский фашизм


  1. ^ a b Marayev, Vladlen; Guz, Julia (30 March 2022). "Rashism or why russians are the new Nazi". VoxUkraine. Archived from the original on 21 April 2022. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  2. ^ Varnytskyy, Viktor (23 March 2022). «Звичайний рашизм»: Путін відверто і послідовно наслідує Гітлера ["Ordinary Rashism": Putin openly and consistently imitates Hitler]. Радіо Свобода (in Ukrainian). Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Archived from the original on 25 April 2022. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Snyder, Timothy (22 April 2022). "The War in Ukraine Has Unleashed a New Word". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 27 January 2023. Retrieved 15 January 2023. Three-quarters of the letters in a Ukrainian neologism from English ("Pаша") are brought together with five-sixths of the letters from an adopted Italian word ("фашизм," fascism) [...] The Ukrainian language has offered a neologism whose formation helps us to see deeper into the creativity of another culture, and whose meaning helps us to see why this war is fought
  4. ^ Spišiaková, Mária; Natalia, Shumeiko. "Political Euphemisms and Neologisms in Online Media Content: Amid the War in Ukraine" (PDF).
  5. ^ *"Zelenskyy Compares Evil of Nazism to 'Current Evil of Ruscism'". Voice of America. 8 May 2023. Archived from the original on 28 July 2023.
  6. ^ Samoilenko, Sergei A.; Keohane, Jennifer; Icks, Martijn; Shiraev, Eric (2019). Routledge Handbook of Character Assassination and Reputation Management. Routledge International Handbooks. Taylor & Francis. p. 367. ISBN 978-1-351-36832-2. Retrieved 28 April 2022. Ukrainian press has been presenting .... the term Rashism, which conflates Russia and fascism
  7. ^ Gaufman, Elizaveta (2016). Security Threats and Public Perception: Digital Russia and the Ukraine Crisis. New Security Challenges. Springer International Publishing. p. 107. ISBN 978-3-319-43201-4. Retrieved 28 April 2022. Pro-Ukrainian commentators have also used the word 'Rashism'
  8. ^ Mohammed, Zahraa Jasim; Challoob, Mahmood Ghazi (2021). Некоторые Инновационные словообразовательные процессы в популярных интернет-текстах в русском и арабском языках [Some innovative word-formation processes in popular Internet texts in Russian and Arabic]. Journal of the College of Languages (in Russian) (43): 186–207. doi:10.36586/jcl.2.2021.0.43.0186. S2CID 242426043. Archived from the original on 22 April 2022. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
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