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Dimitry Savvin is a Russian nationalist, who has gone exile due to his pro-Ukrainian activities. The formal reason for his persecution might seem surprising for a part of Western nationalists – his active position against mass immigration (“fueling of national hatred”) was a pretext for opening a criminal case against him. We offer an interview with D. Savvin.
Tell me your reasons to emigrate from Russia.
Being a consistent opponent of neo-Bolshevik Putin regime since the first days of the Crimean affair, I was determinately against annexing of Crimea, as well as the war provoked in South-Eastern Ukraine. Because I thought and I still think, that this war is a crime against both, Russian and Ukrainian nations.
Since May 2014 I began to publish the articles in Russian and Russian-speaking Ukrainian informative and analytical site “Pyotr and Mazepa” («Петр и Мазепа»). My publishing were written from consistent anti-war position. Finally, on March 5 of 2015, a search warrant against me was unexpectedly carried out, in which (and this is noteworthy) participated not only police, but also the Federal Security Service (FSB) agents. The formal reason for search warrant was a criminal case of murder of some Central Asian migrant workers (I didn’t even know, that such a crime took place). In addition, all the things, which one way or another were related with Ukraine were taken during the search. For example, the collection of articles, among which there was also my publication, etc. The most interesting question, which they asked me, was: “what do you think of Taras Shevchenko’s creative work?”
When the search was over, one of the FSB agents called me into my kitchen for talk. He offered “to meet some time”, and “discuss, what I know”. Respectively, speaking directly, he kindly offered me to be his informer.
A few days later, on March 9th, I was called to Petrograd District Investigation Committee. It turned out, that the criminal case, according to paragraph 282 (“instigation of national hatred”) was reopened because of the demonstration, which we organized in 2013. However, the demonstration has been authorized by the authorities. The main goal of it was the demand for introduction of visa status with Central Asian and Transcaucasia countries. And now, they had decided to reopen this case.
In addition, in February 2015 the FSB special forces arrested and later sentenced the other Russian nationalist Maksim Kalinichenko from St. Petersburg. The reason was, he created a group “Russian Right sector” (“Русский Правый сектор”) in social network in “In contact” (“ВКонтаке”). Additionally I want to say that in the past the Russian right-winger Daniil Konstantinov spent two years in investigative isolator after being charged with fabricated criminal murder case (he was recognized as a political prisoner and currently living in Lithuania, where he found asylum).
It was very likely, that in the nearest future the FSB will start to fabricate the case about “pro-ukrainian underground” in St. Petersburg. It was clear, that they were looking for the slightest reason that would allow them to “put me behind the bars”. I did not have money for the lawyers and for the media. So, I decided not to wait for further development and therefore I tried to leave the Russian Federation as soon as possible (which happened in the late March).
At first I hoped that everything will get back to normal in the short period of time. For two months I lived in Liepāja, Latvia and then three months in various Balkan countries. Finally, when it became clear that nothing will change so soon, I returned to Latvia in September 2015 and filed for political asylum.
In December 12th, 2016, it was granted.
Why did you choose to emigrate exactly to Latvia? How is your life here?
The political emigrants in a rare occasion have the opportunity to choose. Simply due to the fact that I already had some work experience in Latvia, I had a chance to get a Latvian visa quickly and therefore I hurried to use it.
Of course, I am very grateful to Latvia for the fact that I was given asylum, and I hope I can be useful for Latvian people. Despite all the problems in the past the Latvians have managed to establish their own nation state, and from this point of view Latvia in many ways serves as a model for Russian nationalists.
Regarding my personal questions, I have never had any problems here because of my ethnic origin. Also the communication with the state institutions has left on me a good impression.
I would like to point out as well that I have voluntarily refused all welfare which would be granted to me as a refugee. In general, I have not taken a cent from the state.
Have you been a member of some organization? Which one? How is the current situation in Russia for your friends?
I am participating in Russian right-wing movement since 2005. Since that time I have been a member of the different organizations. The last “party project”, in which I took part, was the party a “New Force” ( “Новая Сила»), which was never registered officially. I was a member of St. Petersburg Citizen Committee as well which coordinated the protests against the 2011-2012 election falsification.
Since 2013, I practically distance myself from all political structures, because I am already convinced that the fight against the tools available to a dictatorship is not possible. We switched for the work in non-political and non-commercial sector, trying to form an alternative informative ideological message as far as possible. In particular, we started to work in the Museum of Occupation of Latvia in 2013.
I had and still have comrades. Due to understandable reasons, now I cannot tell about all of them. Unfortunately, many have already been forced to emigrate, many are in prison. Since 2014, the communication with lots of them has been lost. For instance, one of my friends (unfortunately, currently former friend) went to Donbass and now is holding a major position in so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. Another friend of mine, Alexander Valov, with whom we organized the Murmansk branch of the previously mentioned party, went to Ukraine and joined Azov regiment as a volunteer. He was injured and awarded for liberation of Mariupol.
What is your opinion in details concerning the conflict in Ukraine and possession of Crimea?
It is obvious, that according to the existing point of view of international legacy, Crimea is still part of Ukraine. By the way, from the existing legislative point of view in Russian Federation, it is exactly the same, as the Russian Federation Constitution recognizes the superiority of international law and international treaties over Russian legislation.
Both the Crimean annexation and prohibiting completing the revolution, which successfully began in Maidan, means to prevent the opportunity for Ukraine finally overcome the Soviet heritage and neo-bolshevism. Besides, everyone knew, if Ukrainians will be able to create a successful democratic society then Russians will be able to do it, too. Putin found it necessary to demonstrate that such efforts need to be punished and punished quite ruthlessly.
That is why he annexed the Crimea and caused the war in South-Eastern Ukraine. There is no doubt about the fact, that those forces that came to power after Maidan committed a series of errors and rough mistakes, including those regarding Ukraine Russians and Russian-speaking population. But these errors could not be a reason for war. The war was initiated by Kremlin, as to say, initiated from the outside.
What not only regime, but also the average Russian society thinks about your pro-Ukrainian activities?
Frankly speaking, I do not consider my activities pro-Ukrainian, they were and still remain pro-Russian. Both, the Crimean annexation and then the war caused by Putin are even more destructive for Russian people than the Ukrainians. Ukraine will come out of this war renewed and united. The blood which was shed will unite the nation and at the same time will further separate it from Russia.
However, the Russians will turn out to be cut off from both, from Europe and from Ukraine. Russia’s economics, medicine, social sphere – everything will turn into ruins due to the insane ambitions of the criminal and incompetent authorities. I think that only Russophobes or idiots can be happy to see that.
There is no doubt, that the people, who spoke against the annexation of Crimea were the minority in Russia. However, the sharp deterioration of the quality of life significantly reduced the number of people who enthusiastically yelled “Crimea is ours!” ( “Крым наш!”). I assume, that the majority of Russians just do not think about Crimea today, they think, how to survive.
Kremlin was supported by many “leaders” and “ideologists” from the nationalist camp (more precisely, just bloggers) in Russia. However, for example, nationalist Youth was not at all so united in support for this putinist affair. Their enemies are authorities and aggressive migrants, not Ukrainians. And lots of them do not understand why they should suddenly forget about all their national problems and rush to make war with brotherly Slavic people.
It is also significant, that the supporters of so-called Novorossiya time to time were beaten on the streets of Russia. Take a note that this happening in a situation when the ruling power is on their side.
For me personally, as mentioned before, I have lost some friends and acquaintances because of this war. Nevertheless, fortunately there is no conflict in the family because of this. In addition, I have not only lost, but I also gained, both new friends and new allies.
Tell a little bit about ethnic situation in Moscow and Russia in general and what is the attitude of current regime in regards of this question?
In fact, replacement migration is one of the worst problems of modern Russia. The borders with the former Central Asian republics are actually open, there is no visa control. While the Russian nation is experiencing a demographic crisis, in Central Asian countries, on the contrary, we see impressive growth of the population. The Central Asian dictatorships are “shoveling” all of this “excess” to the RF (Russian Federation).
In addition, as a rule, incomers are not the most educated and cultural migrants, but the rural population with a minimal level of knowledge and skills. They have very archaic notions of social, economic and political relations. On one hand, they are often voiceless slaves of those persons, who brought them into Russia; on the other hand, they become a threat themselves. If a person considers every girl with the skirt above the knee as a prostitute and that person has no income, such a specimen is very easy to commit crime. But exactly these masses, uneducated, voiceless, that used to live in the conditions of Asian despotism, are perfectly suitable for putinist country. The Russians, however, are too demanding, too “European”. So, the “right” people are brought in instead of them.
According to some data, Russians are already a minority in Moscow. If the process continues, Russians might become a minority in Russia in general in just one generation. But in that situation, it’s not that far from a new caliphate with the nuclear bomb.
There is a lot of information about Kremlin’s big support for immigration from Central Asia to Russia, as well as massive settling of Chinese in the Asian part of Russia and Siberia. Is this true, and could you tell more about it?
Unfortunately this is true. The Kremlin consciously promotes migration of the post-Soviet Central Asian countries. At the same time, huge areas in Siberia and in the Far East (including my native Trans-Baikal region) are leased to Chinese. Also, not only to them. There are many chunks of Russian land transferred over to North Korea.
According to my observations, Chinese migrants on average are more disciplined and law-obedient than migrants from Uzbekistan or Tajikistan. However, the Chinese Diasporas are very firmly controlled by the authorities of People’s Republic of China. China invests very large financial resources into the project of migration. In addition, Chinese capital prefers to import their workers, rather than using the local labor. The continuation of this policy can lead to the situation, when Russians in Siberia and in the Far East will become the decorative “Aboriginal people”. In addition, don’t forget that the migration from Central Asia and Transcaucasia is not happening only to the European part of Russia, but also to Siberia.
What is your opinion in regards of possibility of Kremlin’s direct involvement promoting current immigration crisis in Europe?
It is obvious that the Kremlin has been using the crisis in its propaganda. There is little information about the flow of immigration stream one can rely on; however, according to some of my sources (for example, about what is happening at the RF and some Scandinavian countries’ borders), one can assume that there have been plans about that. For instance, to incessantly open the “Green Street” to migrants wanting to move from RF to EU.
However, these are the grounds where we come to uncertain claims.
In Latvia, we totally do not have any illusions about the “rightwingness” of the current Kremlin regime, as it is actively supporting massive celebration of communist victory in WW2 by local Russian community in Latvia and opposing the demolition of communist monuments etc. It is not a surprise that leftists are siding with this. However, in your opinion, why does one part of Western nationalists see Putin as a hope for nationalist type of states in Europe and the savior of traditional values? Do you see Russia as a threat not only to the former USSR occupied countries, but also to the wider territories in Europe?
The threat is not Russia itself, but the immoral regime of neo-bolshevism that has subjected Russia. Indeed, plenty of right-wing Western-Europeans believe the fairytale of Putin as a “white humanity’s Christian leader”. Besides the Kremlin’s propaganda, by calling Putin a “nationalist” and his regime as a “right-conservative”, the USA’s and Europe’s leftists are also playing a significant role in cultivating this myth.
I see three main reasons for this myth being so strong. Firstly, it has been an attractive thought to believe that there is a large, strong country somewhere in the world with your supporters in power. Secondly, many facts lead to think that the Kremlin has just banally bribed some of the Western-Europe’s right-wing politicians. Thirdly, it is obvious that some of Europe’s and the United States’ liberals’ by taking the most hysterical and unconstructive position, the unwillingness to admit the conservatives’ and nationalists’ rights for political representation, urges to look for the last allies in the wildest of places. Of course, it has to be understood that the Putin’s regime is the direct sequel of the Soviet system, essentially, its softer version of 1945.-1990. The Eastern Europe’s “peoples’ democracy”, but in no way left or right-wing.
Theoretically, the new war provocations from the Kremlin are the possibility; however, thank goodness, there is currently no great chance of war.
How do you see the future of Russia?
There are two options, the first being the most likely outcome and the other one, being the one I would like to see to become a reality.
Of course, I would love smy Fatherland to be finally clean from the remnants of bolshevism and for the Russian people to create their own country – a national, lawful country which is a part of Europe, since the Russian people are the European nation and Europe is our home, as well.
And if we look at the most probable outcome, there are two plausible versions. If the NATO countries will keep on putting pressure on the political stance regarding Russia and will not back down, then sooner or later the regime will be forced to start a partial liberalization. In truth, possibly there could be some sorts of increased repressions and a “screw tightening” period. Although it cannot be denied, that a new “political thaw” will reach us anyway, similar how it reached the USSR in the years of 1956 and 1986.
And the other version is that NATO is backing down on their sanctions, therefore allowing Putin to keep on supporting an ineffective, thoroughly corrupted Russian economics via western creditors. If the latter happens, then the Putin regime can continue to live on further and the eventual fall of it will be much more painful than it could be under different circumstances. This “painful” fall could touch the neighboring countries as well.
Is there any coordination among nowadays exile Russians? How wide is emigration process and what kind of people mostly go into exile?
Yes, we do have contacts. For example I’m with the Russian nationalist union “The Forces of Good” (“Силы Добра”), which is lead by Vladimir Basmanov, who also is a Russian political emigrant (his brother is currently arrested and is under investigation). The previous mentioned organization unites Russian right-wing political emigrants across the globe. We also have allies in Russia, but for well understandable reasons I can’t disclose further information about them.
Unfortunately, the ideological division persists even in exile. Although we (personally myself, as well) maintain communications with the liberal Russian political emigrants. If God willing someday we will manage to form a structures of coalition without the ideological divisions.
In the last years the number of political emigrants has only grown, because the repressions from the Russian regime have only intensified. In practice, every single one who dares to voice their discontent with the current establishment is at risk. Sometimes it resembles a game of Russian roulette: there can be someone who voices his discontent quite strongly and does not get noticed, but someone gets sued for a simple re-post on a social network. But the thing is that now there have been a few more bullets added into the game, so it is much easier to get hit.
In a result, a lot of people I used to know and worked together are forced to go exile into other countries. Most of the times these are sincere and kind people, who are just implacable opponents of Putin’s regime. There are, of course, also several scams among them, but luckily only few.
Regarding us, even in exile we continue our work. Especially we are trying to convey the message to the people of other countries in regards what’s actually happening in Russia. And, as much as possible, we are preparing for the moment, when we will be able to return to our Fatherland and start to work on its rebirth.