Schizofascism was one of many contradictions on display in spring 2014. According to Russian propaganda, Ukrainian society was full of nationalists but not a nation; the Ukrainian state was repressive but did not exist; Russians were forced to speak Ukrainian though there was no such language. Glazyev overcame contradiction by invoking the West. The Americans, he averred, wanted a third world war because of high national debt. Ukraine should have collapsed when Glazyev made a few phone calls. When it did not, this only showed that its government was an American projection, “the Nazi junta that the Americans had installed in Kyiv.” To defeat what he characterized as an American occupation, Glazyev maintained that it was “necessary to terminate all its driving forces: the American ruling elite, European bureaucracy and Ukrainian Nazis. The first one is the main aspect, the two others—secondary.” Putin’s Eurasia advisor was saying that Eurasia required the destruction of American politics. The war for Ukraine and Europe would be won, Glazyev thought, in Washington.
Like his advisor Glazyev, Putin defined Ukrainians who resisted Russian invasion as fascists. Speaking of the chaos that Russia had brought about by invading its neighbor, Putin claimed on March 18 that “nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and antisemites executed this coup. They continue to set the tone to this day.” This claim had a certain schizofascist ring. Russian foreign policy in 2014 bore more than a passing resemblance to certain of the more notorious moments of the 1930s. The replacement of laws, borders, and states with innocence, righteousness, and great spaces was fascist geopolitics. Foreign Minister Lavrov’s Foreign Policy Concept, invoked to justify the invasion of Ukraine, repeated the principle that a state might intervene to protect anyone that it defines as a member of its own culture. This was the argument that Hitler had used in annexing Austria, partitioning Czechoslovakia, and invading Poland in 1938 and 1939, and the argument Stalin had used when invading Poland in 1939 and annexing Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1940.
On March 14, 2014, when a Ukrainian was killed by Russians in Donetsk, Lavrov claimed this as a justification for Russian intervention in a neighboring sovereign state: “Russia is aware of its responsibility for the lives of its compatriots and nationals in Ukraine and reserves the right to defend those people.” Putin said the same on April 17: “The essential issue is how to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the southeast of Ukraine.” The fact that Ukrainian citizens enjoyed greater rights of expression than Russian citizens went unmentioned. Putin later promised to use “the entire arsenal” of available means to protect Russia’s “compatriots.”
This language of “compatriots” in what Putin called the “Russian world” made citizens of Ukraine hostage to the whims of a foreign ruler. A person disappears into a notional community, defined from a great distance, in the capital of another country. In the rhetoric of a Russian civilization or “Russian world,” Ukrainian citizens lost their individuality and became a collective whose culture, as defined by Russians, justified a Russian invasion of Ukraine. The individual disappears into eternity.
In a war that was supposed to be against fascism, many of Russia’s allies were fascists. American white supremacists Richard Spencer, Matthew Heimbach, and David Duke celebrated Putin and defended his war, and Russia repaid them by using an approximation of the Confederate battle flag as the emblem of its occupied territories in southeastern Ukraine. The European far Right also applauded Russia’s war. The Polish fascist Konrad Rękas endorsed Putin’s Eurasia concept in general and a Russian invasion of Ukraine in particular. In September 2013, he anticipated that Russia would invade Ukraine, and dreamed of leading a Russian-backed government in Poland. Robert Luśnia was a onetime collaborator with the Polish communist secret police and a financial supporter of Antoni Macierewicz, a major figure in the Polish Right. Together with Rękas, he tried to spread the Russian propaganda line that Ukraine was dominated by Jews.
Confederate battle flag (left) and Novorossiia flag (right)
The leader of the Hungarian fascist party Jobbik, invited by Dugin to Moscow, praised Eurasia. The leader of Bulgaria’s fascist party launched an electoral campaign in Moscow. The neo-Nazis of Greece’s Golden Dawn praised Russia for defending Ukraine from “the ravens of international usury,” by which they meant the Jewish international conspiracy. The Italian Fronte Nazionale lauded Putin’s “courageous position against the powerful gay lobby.” America’s leading white supremacist, Richard Spencer, tried (but failed) to organize a meeting of the European far Right in Budapest. Among the invitees were Dugin and the German neo-Nazi Manuel Ochsenreiter, a defender of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Russian media.
A few dozen French far-Right activists came to fight in Ukraine on the Russian side. They were screened by the Russian army and then sent into the field. About a hundred German citizens also came to fight in the company of the Russian army and Russian paramilitaries, as did citizens of a number of other European countries. Russia’s war in Ukraine created training grounds for terrorism. In fall 2016, a Serbian nationalist was arrested for planning an armed coup in Montenegro. He had fought on the Russian side in Ukraine, and said that he had been recruited for the plot by Russian nationalists. In January 2017, Swedish Nazis trained by Russian paramilitaries in Russia bombed an asylum center for refugees in Gothenburg.
In 2014, institutions and individuals close to the Kremlin organized Russia’s fascist friends. In April 2014, a branch of the Rodina party founded a “World National-Conservative Movement.” It cited Ilyin in referring to the EU as part of the “global cabal,” in other words the international Jewish conspiracy. Alyaksandr Usovsky, a Belarusian citizen and the author of the book God Save Stalin! Tsar of the U.S.S.R. Joseph the Great, helped Malofeev coordinate the actions of European fascists. Usovsky paid Poles who were willing to stage anti-Ukrainian protests at the moment when Ukraine was invaded by Russia.
Malofeev personally invited the leaders of the European far Right to a palace in Vienna on May 31, 2014. At this gathering, France was represented by Aymeric Chauprade and Marion Maréchal–Le Pen, the niece of Marine Le Pen. Dugin stole the show with his passionate case that only a united far Right could save Europe from gay Satan.
The schizofascist lies displaced the events in Ukraine and the experiences of Ukrainians. Under the weight of all of the contradictory concepts and hallucinatory visions of spring 2014, who would see or remember the individual on the Maidan, with his or her facts and passions, his or her desire to be in history and make history?
Russians, Europeans, and Americans were meant to forget the students who were beaten on a cold November night because they wanted a future. And the mothers and fathers and grandparents and veterans and workers who then came to the streets in defense of “our children.” And the lawyers and consultants who found themselves throwing Molotov cocktails. The hundreds of thousands of people who broke themselves away from television and internet and who journeyed to Kyiv to put their bodies at risk. The Ukrainian citizens who were not thinking of Russia or geopolitics or ideology but of the next generation. The young historian of the Holocaust, the sole supporter of his family, who went back to the Maidan during the sniper massacre to rescue a wounded man, or the university lecturer who took a sniper’s bullet to the skull that day.