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Response to Coventina (Original post)

Sun Nov 3, 2019, 11:01 AM

8. Russia Is Co-opting Angry Young Men

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/08/russia-is-co-opting-angry-young-men/568741/

Neo-Nazis, skinheads, soccer hooligans and similar violence-prone groups on the radical right also have the potential to serve as ready, often unwitting, Kremlin agents of influence who can be manipulated to undermine Western democratic institutions. The Kremlin makes use of far-right groups for a number of reasons. First, these groups can be manipulated and indoctrinated through social media, which makes them ripe targets for organizations like the Internet Research Agency, whose trolls can mobilize their members with carefully crafted messaging. Second, these groups are likely to find the Kremlin’s ideology of “traditional Russian values” appealing, particularly when contrasted with Western liberal values such as individual rights, tolerance, and self-expression. Right-wing groups are more easily drawn into the Russian orbit with anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-feminist rhetoric and by a narrative that stresses a collectivist, tribal, and racially exclusive worldview.

Finally, the Western radical right is attractive to the Kremlin not only because it provides a pool of recruits—often angry young white men—for stirring up social protests, but also because it serves as a backdoor for establishing ties with far-right political parties and anti-establishment politicians. The Kremlin views such politicians—like France’s Marine Le Pen, Germany’s Frauke Petry, and Italy’s Matteo Salvini—as battering rams that can be used to demolish democratic institutions and to challenge the political establishment’s support for NATO, the EU, and transatlantic ties. Although the Kremlin’s effort to co-opt Western politicians is beyond the scope of this article, it is a key reason why Russia invests resources in cultivating fringe radicals in the West.

For obvious reasons, however, the Kremlin tries to hide its support for far-right groups, both in Russia and elsewhere. A BBC documentary on Russian neo-Nazi soccer hooligans secretly recorded the leader of Moscow’s Spartak “ultras” explaining that his army of followers served as “Putin’s foot soldiers.” Shortly after the documentary aired, Russian police issued a call for all those who had been interviewed in the film to report immediately to local stations across Russia and sign forms saying they had been coerced into lying by the BBC.

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