Limonov Denies Activists Acted as NBP
Published: October 10, 2012 (Issue # 1730)
SERGEY CHERNOV / SPT
Opposition figure Eduard Limonov, who denies that The Other Russia is a continuation of the banned NBP, at the trial Friday.
Author Eduard Limonov, chair of the Other Russia opposition party, said Friday that the National Bolshevik Party (NBP), which he co-founded in Sept. 1993, has not existed since it was banned as “extremist” in 2007.
Limonov testified as a defense witness at Vyborgsky District Court, where St. Petersburg activists from The Other Russia are on trial on charges of allegedly continuing the “extremist” activities of the NBP.
“I don’t look suicidal, and why should we take such a risk?” Limonov said. “No, we submitted to the ruling, without arguing with the law. How could we argue? The party was banned and that’s that.”
Limonov said he had applied for registration for a new party, The Other Russia, in May 2007, a month after a Moscow court banned the NBP. The ban came into force in August the same year.
Earlier, in February 2006, Limonov had formed a coalition called The Other Russia with liberal opposition leaders Mikhail Kasyanov and Garry Kasparov. The name The Other Russia was the title of a book of political essays written by Limonov in 2003.
A large amount of evidence presented by the prosecution in the ongoing trial was aimed at proving the activists’ connection to Limonov, describing him as the “NBP leader.”
Books by Limonov, including those he wrote as an émigré in the U.S. and France in the early 1980s, were confiscated during searches at the activists’ homes, while at the hearings, the prosecution drew specific attention to excerpts from secretly made videos from the group’s weekly meetings at which Limonov was mentioned.
Limonov, however, said that he had never been accused of continuing the activities of the banned NBP. “Never, not the slightest mention, nobody has ever even got in touch with me about that,” he said.
Limonov said that not all the former NBP members joined the new party, citing the National Bolshevik Front (NBF), the NBP Without Limonov and Natsiya I Svoboda (Nation and Freedom) as rival National Bolshevik organizations that have existed after the ban.
According to Limonov, the main defendants Andrei Dmitriyev and Andrei Pesotsky, who belonged to the NBP before the ban, complied with the ruling and became members of The Other Russia.
“The Other Russia emerged even before the ban on the NBP, because we already had somewhat different ideas of forming a different party with a different program: A mostly socialist program, a program with a slant on democratic changes, human rights activities, that kind of program,” Limonov said.
The author and politician explained that National Bolshevism is an ideology that emerged in the early 20th century both in Russia and Germany, and sharing this ideology does not necessarily entail belonging to any specific political organization.
In Russia, the ideas of National Bolshevism were developed by Nikolai Ustryalov, who was shot at the height of the Stalinist terror in 1937, while German proponent of National Bolshevism Ernst Niekisch was sentenced to life imprisonment under Hitler for his pamphlet “Hitler: German Doom,” Limonov pointed out. According to him, this ideology combined socialist ideas with those of national self-consciousness.
“National Bolshevism has never been banned, being rooted in anti-fascism,” he said.
Limonov claimed he authored the term “Natsbol” as a shortened form of “National Bolshevik.”
“It took root, and I think it has been included in the French dictionary Le Petit Robert, like [the word] ‘sputnik,’” he said.
“A [Natsbol] could be a member of a different organization and even be my opponent, as in the case of the National Bolshevik Front led by [pro-Putin philosopher Alexander] Dugin. They were my opponents, but they are also Natsbols.”
According to Limonov, the idea of starting a new party emerged long before the NBP was banned.
“We had been discontent with that party for a long time,” he said.
“The National Bolshevik Party — its very name sounded archaic — it belonged to the 1990s, we had wanted to get rid of it for a long time.”
He said that The Other Russia had not used the banned NBP’s red flags with a circled hammer and sickle symbol, as the prosecution had claimed.
“I’ll repeat myself; we are not suicidal. I would even go as far as to say we are afraid and were afraid of legal persecution, and we don’t need this,” Limonov said.
Limonov denied the prosecution’s allegations that Strategy 31 rallies, during which the defendants were detained, were NBP rallies and used the party’s paraphernalia.
“It’s solely my project, they are non-partisan rallies that people do not attend with paraphernalia; we banned it and fought against it,” he said.
“They are rallies in defense of Article 31 of the Constitution that says that citizens have the right to assemble peacefully, without arms, to hold meetings, rallies and demonstrations, marches and pickets. My idea, which everybody found witty, was to come on the 31st day of the months that have 31 days and rally in defense of this right.
“In Moscow, at one point we got strong support from human rights activists such as the Moscow Helsinki Group, Memorial and Lev Ponomaryov’s Movement for Human Rights, and these rallies gathered up to several thousand people.”
Limonov said that the activists had tried hard to keep the atmosphere at the Strategy 31 rallies “politically neutral.”
“For instance, a lot of liberals came to [the rallies] and it might be unpleasant for them to see the flags of opposing ideologies, for instance, a socialist one,” he said.
“We wanted people to leave their political beliefs at the door of those 31 rallies.”