Russian National Unity
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|Founded||October 16, 1991|
|Political position||Third Position (official)
|International affiliation||World Union of National Socialists|
|Slogan||"Russia for Russians"|
Russian National Unity (RNU) or All-Russian civic patriotic movement "Russian National Unity" (Russian: Всероссийское общественное патриотическое движение "Русское Национальное Единство") is a National Socialist political party and paramilitary organization based in Russia and formerly operating in states with Russian-speaking populations. It was founded by Alexander Barkashov, a key figure of far-right Russian nationalism since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The movement advocates the expulsion of non-Russians and an increased role for traditional Russian institutions such as the Russian Orthodox Church.
The organization is currently unregistered federally in Russia.
Ideology and tactics
Promoting the notion of "Russia for Russians and compatriots", members of the party (sometimes called "Barkashovites") endorse policies including the expulsion of minorities that "have their homeland outside Russia," especially Jews and migrants from the South Caucasus, such as Azeri, Georgians and Armenians, as well as other countries. Their vision of Russia is divided into privileged ethnic Russians and "compatriots" - non-Russians who live in Russia and have their national homeland there, including indigenous populations of Russian Far East, North, Turkic, and some other minorities. While they consider these "compatriots" to be entitled to live in Russia, the RNU nonetheless condemns any inter-ethnic and inter-racial marriages, claiming that "they create psychological troubles of self-identification for children from such marriages".
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According to the Saint Petersburg Times, new recruits (storonniki, literally: "supporters", "siders") to the organization have traditionally been required to serve as low-level functionaries in the organization, acting as drivers and handing out flyers, as well as attending instructional sessions on the group's philosophy and beliefs, many of which are derived from a book written by Barkashov. As members advance, they may attain the rank of spodvizhniki (literally: archaic, high-style for "co-workers"; "co-endeavourers") and are entitled to wear the insignia and participate in paramilitary training. The most dedicated members advance to the ranks of the soratniki (literally: "comrades-in-arms"), who serve as the leadership of the group.
The organisation also worked with businesses, state officials, military and secret services. Supporting businessmen were awarded certificates of merit and other honours. The organization presently avoids direct violations of the law. Some officials have allowed RNU to take part in street patrols and other collaborations with the police; and military training facilities have been made available. Some sympathetic state and industrial officials lent RNU places for meetings, provided facilities to print literature, make uniforms, and copy CDs and video cassettes and other materials. Several martial arts classes with RNU instructors associated with state schools were opened.
In 1989, Barkashov was the second in command in Russian National-Patriotic Front Pamyat. His conflict with Dmitri Vasilyev resulted in Barkashov leading, in his words, "the most disciplined and active members, dissatisfied with empty talk and theatrical stunts, out of Pamyat." In 1990, RNU grew in the face of the economic and social difficulties faced by Russians in the course of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The Russian National Unity movement was founded on 16 October 1990 by a splinter group of the National Patriotic Front “Memory” (NPF “Pamyat”). It grew from 1990 to 1991. Members have been reported to wear black and camouflage uniforms; the group adopted a red and white swastika emblem and openly expressed admiration for German national socialism and public celebrations of the rise of the Nazis, although the organization officially denied any support for Nazi ideology. The group was active not only in Russia, but also in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine. The RNU has attempted to unite nationalist groups by organizing Slavonic and then Russian sobors. They met with various groups to pursue common goals, but saw little progress.
By the middle of 1993, Russian National Unity had become the most prominent Russian nationalist movement, with a wide network of regional divisions. In addition to engaging in political action, the RNU conducted military drills and tactical training. As the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis unfolded, the RNU militantly supported the Russian parliament over the president, Boris Yeltsin. In 1993 it took part in defending and patrolling the "White house" - the residence of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation during the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993 against the President's troops. Following Yeltsin's victory, RNU worked illegally for several months. While underground, the movement continued to publish their newspaper Russian order.
The same year, the organization was registered as "a club for military and patriotic upbringing" and later was recognized by local officials as "a volunteer people's self-protection unit". To help achieve its goals, the RNU developed a cadre of armed paramilitaries, known as "Russian Vityazi", who were trained in the use of small arms and explosives.
On 15 October 1995, 304 delegates from 37 regional divisions attended a RNU conference in Moscow. In 1999, Moscow’s mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, with the support of higher government officials, prohibited the second RNU regional conference from being held in Moscow. However, the RNU continued to organize.
At the peak of its popularity in 1999, RNU was estimated to have 100,000 active members all over Russia by state officials. They are now only a shadow of what they once were, and have been inactive and somewhat dormant for many years now.
In Ukraine RNE is represented by several parties:
- Simonsen, Sven Gunnar (December 1996). "Aleksandr Barkashov and Russian National Unity: Blackshirt friends of the nation". Nationalities Papers 24 (4): 625–639. doi:10.1080/00905999608408473.
- Stephen D. Shenfield, Russian Fascism: Traditions, Tendencies, Movements. M. E. Sharpe, New York, February 2001. ISBN 978-0-7656-0634-1; Ch. 6: Barkashov and the Russian National Unity, pp. 113–189.