Staunton, September 27 – Aleksandr Dugin, the source of Vladimir Putin’s notions about “Novorossiya,” is rapidly losing his influence in the Kremlin because of his misreading of the amount of support in Ukraine for Russia and the amount of support for massive military intervention there in the Russian capital, according to Vladimir Abarinov.
The Moscow commentator says that the Eurasianist’s recent criticism of Moscow for failing to intervene reflect his own limitations as an analyst and politician and are rooted in Dugin’s background in the last decade of the Soviet period.
Unlike many of his colleagues, Abarinov says, he doesn’t consider Aleksandr Dugin to be mad.” A charlatan, to be sure, but not insane in a clinical sense. Rather he is someone who is given to mysticism rather than analysis and thus charismatic some of the time but profoundly wrong much of it.
As a young man in the 1980s, Dugin fell under the influence of the mystic Yevgeny Golovin, a man so far from politics that he wasn’t viewed as a problem by Soviet officials. Golovin “very much loved the middle ages,” and his notions informed Dugin’s thinking. But whereas Golovin was ironic, Dugin took everything at face value, Abarinov says.
If Dugin became a traditionalist, medievalist and occult thinker because of Golovin, the Moscow commentator says, he likely became a conspiracy theorist because of the impact of his father, a general in the GRU, who saw conspiracies everywhere and whose son extrapolated them to ever larger categories ever less connected with reality.
But the combination of a focus on the occult and conspiracies proved highly seductive to many in Moscow in the 1990s. The GRU funded Dugin’s activities and his creation of a Eurasianist movement in particular, and by 1988, he had become an advisor of Gennady Seleznev, the speaker of the Russian parliament.
Among those who fell at least in part under Dugin’s spell was Vladimir Putin who shared his view that the disintegration of the USSR was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” and his passion for conspiratorial thinking. And in Putin’s statements, one increasingly finds Dugin’s “words, phraseology, and approach.”
After the Orange Revolution in Kyiv in 2004, Abarinov says, “Dugin was given carte blanche to form a European Union of Youth” who could serve, in his words, as “a living shield on the path of the orange bulldozer” and a kind of neo-oprichniki to defend the Russian regime of Vladimir Putin.
According to Abarinov, Dugin was the source of Putin’s obsession with the idea of “Novorossiya,” and when it appeared that that idea was on its way to realization, Dugin concluded that his time had come, a conclusion that led him to the excesses of conspiracy thinking and “imperial gigantomania.”
But when it became clear that his prediction that all the Ukrainians wanted was to rejoin Russia, Dugin’s’ influence began to decline; and when he lashed out at those in Moscow, including Putin, who weren’t prepared to redouble their bets to retake Ukraine, it declined still further. As a result, today, Dugin is on his way to the outer edge of political influence.