Welcome to New Russia

Novorossiya Flag
New Russia crest
New Russia crest

On May 22 in Donetsk, the founding congress of the newly formed New Russia Party (officially the Social-Political Movement – Party of New Russia) took place, led by Pavel Gubarev, paramilitary leader and self-declared ‘People’s Governor’ of the Donetsk People’s Republic. The purpose of the party, Gubarev said, was to create “a broad platform for a future political force.” He addressed the crowd with policy issues, the goals & objectives of the party, and proclaimed the foundation of a (another) new state he called New Russia – which he stated would be the party’s first goal. The second goal would be the nationalization of property owned by oligarchs who resisted the party – namely, billionaire Rinat Akhmetov.

The news follows similar announcements murmured on May 6 when renegade Ukrainian MP Oleg Tsarov issued a similar declaration on the creation of a new ‘Federal Republic of New Russia,’ though details of its organization were limited and official word had been quiet since. Tsarov has been trying to carve out a place for himself in separatist politics after his bid in the presidential race failed to gain traction in Ukraine’s southeast, and has since remained in the easternmost province of Luhansk. The declaration earned him a place on the European Union’s sanctions list.

The First Congress

A Collective of the Far-Right

The first congress of New Russia’s eponymous party was attended by pro-Russian separatist officials of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Donbass Militia and Donetsk Republic leader Pavel Gubarev. Notably, Gubarev was previously a member of the neo-Nazi Russian National Unity, which is part of the World Union of National Socialists. The leader of the RNU was recently implicated in rigging the Donetsk Republic referendum, and openly admitted to his presence in the region.

Also in attendance were Alexander Prokhanov, described as “a devout Stalinist and notorious anti-Semite whose ideology bears strong marks of Russian fascism if not Nazism (including fascination with the idea that Russia is the true “mystical womb” of Aryan civilization);” Alexander Dugin, a controversial ideologue known for his admiration of fascism and the killing of Ukrainians; and Valery Korovin, a political analyst who calls for “the domination of leftist economics and rightist politics.” Both Prokhanov and Korovin are members of the Izborsky Club, a group which advocates for a continental “Eurasian Empire” to “save the peoples of Russia from degeneration and outside attack.”

Dugin expanded his thoughts on the self-declared state later online,  calling it a response by those who “reject the Kyiv-Galician identity” in favor of an “ethno-social” Cossack way of life. The party’s purpose is also a rejection of  “Jewish oligarchs,” “pro-American liberals,” and “Catholics, Protestants, and Schismatics.” He also describes an ongoing “war with liberal Nazis.”

Structure

Clearly being a driving political hand behind the party and new ‘confederation’, Dugin says that New Russia will be independent but part of ‘Eurasian integration’ which will facilitate a restoration of ‘Great Russia’, and essentially sees the polity as both a satellite state and key to the revival of the Russian Empire. However, he plainly states that the region won’t join the Russia Federation as Crimea did. The official party programme states it will be a sovereign federation.

Donetsk will act as the capital city of the federation, and Russian Orthodox Christianity will be given ‘special status’ as the official state religion. Ukrainian (which he refers to as ‘Little Russian’) should be the second official language (though the official party guide contradicts this). Nationalization of major industries is a must.

While the creation of the so-called Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics is considered the first phase of the project, the second phase is surprisingly said to be causing rebellion in the western Ukrainian province of Zakarpattia. The third phase is a further expansion to central and western Ukraine.

Controversial Symbolism

Unveiling of the New Russia flag
Unveiling of the New Russian ‘confederate’ flag

Given the political leanings of those involved in the congress, the symbology used by the party follows a predictable, but attention grabbing motif.

Officially, the new national flag was presented by a speaker as a take on the St. Andrews Cross, with white representing “purity and honesty,” and red representing blood. However, most will likely see the flag for what it most ostensibly is: a near recreation of the American Confederate battle flag, a symbol which remains highly controversial in the United States and often associated with racism. The flag made its first appearance on the Facebook account of Pavel Gubarev in December, months before eastern unrest. The unofficial rationale behind the decision could be multitude: rebellion, confederacy, ‘state rights’ (regional autonomy), and a desire to provoke the U.S. (a stated enemy); of course, the reason could also be more insidious.

Beyond that, the party crest (seen in the Novorossiya newspaper a day prior) is somewhat innocuous with its wheat, spoil tips, and prolific Golden Eagle soaring above. The eagle, known as a berkut in Ukrainian, was intentionally chosen as a divisive nod to the reviled and disbanded special police force of the same name that was involved in widespread police brutality and the murder of EuroMaidan protesters, but unsurprisingly heroized by Russia and pro-Russian separatists alike.

New Russia?

Talk of ‘New Russia’ as an historical and political unit has gained significant attention during the ongoing crisis.

In recent months Russian president Vladimir Putin has made ominous statements referring to Ukraine’s southeast in the archaic “New Russia,” (Novorossiya) and in parroting revisionist history lamenting that “Only God knows” why these historically Ukrainian lands were “transferred” to [Soviet] Ukraine in 1920. “I would like to remind you that what was called Novorossiya [New Russia] back in the tsarist days—Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa—were not part of Ukraine back then.” What he says is partially true, as Ukraine did not exist as a state ‘back then’. Neither did the Russian Federation. Semantics aside, in reality, Soviet Ukraine was birthed in the eastern city of Kharkiv in 1919, and even after a Russian-backed civil war against a unified (if tumultuous) unified Ukrainian state in Kyiv, the southeast remained integral to the territorial unit that is Ukraine through all its incarnations (and no transfers have ever occurred). Despite this, use of the colonial-era term has been explained as a case of irredentism, used increasingly by Russian neo-imperialists.

 What now?

It is still to be determined what purpose a party such as this will have in Ukrainian, or separatist politics. While the political aspirations of the now terrorist-branded Donetsk Republic may have been too small in scope for Gubarev, creating such a party is a clear attempt to consolidate and unify separatist forces which have been plagued with infighting in Donetsk, and with no clear direction or coordination between the Donetsk and Luhansk camps. Moreover, the Congress is also a clear attempt to establish a single-party system in these self-declared democracies.

Russian historian Sergey Lebedev recently called Moldova’s Russian-occupied region of Transnistria “the first liberated part of New Russia” and these escalating developments in its name are cause for concern as each successive move since the invasion of Crimea has been predictably telegraphed in advance. If Gubarev’s social media postings are to be prophetic of his intentions, a map posted in late January adorning the party’s flag indicates supporters’ eyes are set on 9 southeastern regions in order to create a “politically stable Ukraine.” Will the South rise again? Based solely on the will of the people and the military setbacks in successfully gaining a foothold in the Donbas, the aspirations of the New Russia Party are currently nothing short of a pipe dream.

29 thoughts on “Welcome to New Russia”

  1. HAHAHA.. The Confederate flag …same ideals: razism, unnoficial troops, separatist, fight against US, … courage but not enough brain. (in this case)

    1. You dumbass, it’s the official Russian Naval Jack! Why would Russian Nationalists take a flag from the CSA knowing their deep hatred for anything American?

      1. Because they are just a bunch of russian nazi-scum (i am from Russia) and they are ispired by CSA and they support racism.

      2. the CSA hated the USA too, so your point is lost. The adopted the most anti-American symbol out there that isn’t the hammer and sickle.

        1. hey SuperMensa, do you know anything about the Russian Armed Forces, obviously not because they are the ones that picked the national flag for New Russia and it is the Russian Naval Jack, maybe you should get your head out of your ass while you enjoy telling everyone your IQ and get into reality

          1. that’s a convenient ex-post-facto explanation. The guy who is credited with creating it admitted he just found it online, which was then used by Gubarev. Gubarev made up a story that it was a flag used by cossacks. It has nothing to do with the Russian navy.

          2. way to deflect the point. and the russian naval jack has a white cross, which the new russia one does not. case closed, you’re grasping at a coincidence.

        2. Wow are you sure about that? Because everything I have read stated they loved America. Source Library of Congress

  2. Next they’ll be putting up cotton plantations – for the serfs to slave in!

  3. There’s a long tradition in Russia to use the blue St Andrews Cross, nothing to do with the Army of Northern Virginia battle flag.

    1. Well, it does have something to do with it. They are both self-consciously using St. Andrew’s Cross.

  4. The flag is indeed the cross of St. Andrew and was associated with William Wallace long before it became the Confederate flag. If any meaning can be derived from the fact that it was previously known as the Confederate flag, that would be rebellion or succession. I hate to tell you this but racism is an American phenomenon more than anywhere else in the history of the world. These are of course Galician sentiments as well. Ukie Nazis really believe they are racially superior to the “Moskals” just as Hitler believed Germans were superior beings and that Jews should be exterminated.

    In any case, interesting choice. Ukrainian Policy, you should go a little easier on the propaganda, lol. Alexander Dugin is too much of an extremist, btw. Does more harm than good. Kinda reminds me of John McCain.

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