What is NBP ?

Andrei Dmitriev: Who Are the National-Bolsheviks?


[While I was attending the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum in Helsinki in early July, Grigory

Pasko introduced me to an intelligent, articulate young man named Andrei Dmitriev, one

of the leaders of the banned National-Bolshevik Party. I have been interested in the

NatsBols” ever since I met their charismatic leader, Eduard Limonov, several years ago in

Moscow, and have been carefully watching developments in Russia as the Kremlin has

methodically turned the screws on this organization, destroying it with merciless cruelty.

When I asked Andrei what the West should know about the plight of the opposition in

Russia, he burst into an impassioned litany I immediately realized would make a wonderful

article for the blog. I told Andrei that if he put his thoughts down on paper, I would get

them translated so they could reach a wider international audience. Here then is the result.

In his article, Andrei Dmitriev addresses himself primarily to the people of Europe, but his

observations and challenges are applicable to all of us who are concerned about what is

going on in Russia today. - Robert Amsterdam]

 Who Are the National-Bolsheviks and What

Do They Want to Say to Europe.

By Andrei Dmitriev, National-Boshevik Co-Coordinator of the Coalition

«The Other Russia» in St. Petersburg

 Never Be Pronounced. That’s what the abbreviation NBP

(National-Bolshevik Party) now stands for in the Russian mass

media. Just a few weeks ago, the Supreme court of the Russian

Federation issued a decision on its final and definitive

prohibition as an extremist organization.

According to the legislation of the RF, participation in the

activities of a prohibited organization is punishable by a term of

up to 4 years of deprivation of liberty, leaders can get up to 12

years in jail. The NBP has become the first political organization

in relation to which such a harsh law has been applied. And this

is not surprising – during the time of the rule of Vladimir Putin,

it had become the most irreconcilable opponent of his system of

“managed democracy”. It is enough to mention that more than a

hundred National-Bolsheviks have been in jail. At the same time,

the European mass media and human rights organizations are

effectively ignoring the repressions in relation to the “NatsBols”.

Thus, Amnesty International has not declared a single one of

them a political prisoner. And the prohibition on the party

likewise has not become even remotely significant news. It is

natural that western public opinion would have a hard time

understanding the NBP phenomenon. The name of the party, its

controversial and confrontational insignia, certain slogans look

unconventional to many Europeans. However, we will try to

make sense of the essential question: just who exactly are the National-


 The NBP was founded by Eduard Limonov in the year 1994 as

an opposition patriotic-leftist organization. At first this was more

a phenomenon of the youth subculture than of politics. Starting

with the year 1998, the National-Bolsheviks regularly submitted

documents for the registration of the party to the ministry of

justice. However, six times the bureaucrats denied them. In such

a manner was the right of citizens of Russia to create a political

party, to influence the fate of their country, trampled on. The

party acquired broad fame under Putin, when the National-

Bolsheviks became the first to speak out against the dictatorial

manner of the new power and ended up becoming its first


Eduard Limonov, thrown by the new power in jail, directed a

letter to the Russian public and opposition, calling on all – right

and left – irrespective of political differences, to “wake up and

fight for political freedoms”. And it was just this struggle for

freedoms that became the main substance of the party’s

activities in the eight years of Putin’s rule. (And Limonov’s call

was realized only in five years, when the coalition «The Other

Russia» was founded, uniting the most disparate forces, close

cooperation began between the National-Bolsheviks and Garry

Kasparov’s United civic front, the Marches of the Discontented

started being conducted through joint efforts).

The NBP became famous for its “direct action campaigns.” This

is street demonstrations, blocking of roads, sit-ins at the offices

of bureaucrats, hanging up banners and the like. Something

similar in the west is done by Greenpeace and the

anti-globalists. Probably the most famous campaign of this type

was the takeover of the office of minister of health and social

development Mikhail Zurabov in August of the year 2004, from

the window of which the NatsBol Maxim Gromov threw out a

portrait of Putin. (The corresponding Associated Press photofound its

way around the world).

An analogous campaign took place in December of that same

year in the reception office of the administration of the

president. Thirty-nine National-Bolsheviks came there with

books of the Russian Constitution, demanding the holding of

free elections and the resignation of Putin. By analogy with the

insurrection of the year 1825, they were called «Decembrists». It

is important to note that all the NBP campaigns bore an

extremely peaceful, non-violent character. Not a single drop of

blood was spilled, not a single piece of glass was broken.

Participants in this sort of thing in the countries of the European

Union face either a fine or administrative arrest for several days.

In Russia, everything is different. Such actions are equated with

terrorism and attempts at a violent seizure of power. Maxim

Gromov and the other participants in the campaign in Zurabov’s

office were sentenced to three years of deprivation of liberty, the

«Decembrists» got analogous terms. A large part of the time

prisoner Gromov spent in the Karzer [best translates as “dungeon” in

English—Trans.] – this is the revenge the Russian president exacted

from him for the incident with the portrait. At a press conference

after release from jail he told of the monstrous conditions that

prevail in the Russian “zones”, about the tortures, abuses and

humiliating and degrading treatment that are an everyday

reality. The repressions in relation to the NatsBols bear a

multiple-level character – this is legal prohibitions on

participation in elections, beatings by the OMON in street

actions, and visits by officers of the special services at studies or

to the workplace and so on and so forth Many, many thousands

of young men and women have gone through this. In the case of

the National-Bolsheviks (just like in Chechnya), the Russian

Constitution and legislation are non-operational. Lawlessness

rules here. This is why those who criticize the NatsBols for an

“incorrect” flag and name would do well to understand that

Maxim Gromov and friends did far more for the cause of the

struggle for the freedom of Russia than the functionaries of the

old democratic parties like Grigory Yavlinsky or Boris Nemtsov.

The National-Bolsheviks have proven their right to the slogan

“Russia will be free” by their daily resistance to the regime.

Today the country is entering the season of duma and

presidential elections. The scramble for power has begun. What

they fear most in the Kremlin is that events will unfold on the

Ukrainian model, where the people, coming out on Maidan

Nezalezhnosti [Independence Square—Trans.], refused to allow the

falsification of the results of the voting. In order not to allow a

“Russian Maidan” to take place, they need to neutralize the

most active part of the opposition – «The Other Russia» and the

National-Bolsheviks. It is precisely for this reason that the

decision on declaring the NBP an extremist organization was

adopted with such haste.

And so, what exactly in these conditions, in a period of decisive

trials for Russia, would we, the National-Bolsheviks, like to

convey to European society? First, we want an honest and objective

approach to the processes taking place in Russia. Very often, one gets the

impression that for European elites, questions of political

freedoms are merely a bargaining chip in relations with

Moscow. Their eyes blinded by cheap oil and gas, they ignore

the processes taking place in Russia of the degeneration of the

administrative system and the transformation of the country

into a police state. One gets the impression that there is some

sort of unspoken pact between the European elites and the

Russian ruling establishment. This despite the fact that the

Putinite raw-materials state (or, as they call it, “energy

superpower”) is dependent on western governments and has no

choice but to heed their opinion. In these conditions, only civil

society can give an appropriate assessment to what is taking

place and to influence the governments of their countries. Second,

direct dialogue between the Russian opposition and the civil society of Europe is

essential. It is known that the Kremlin is attempting to present the

opposition and the National-Bolsheviks in particular as

extremists and fascists. The logic is like this: “Yes,” say the

Putinites, “We are far from ideal. We have our problems with

democracy, with human rights, with poverty. But if not us, then

these horrid extremists will come.” It’s not important that this is

a lie from beginning to end. Like Dr. Goebbels used to say – the

more outrageous the lie, the more readily people will believe in

it. Which is exactly what we’re seeing on the example of the

European Everyman, hypnotized by Putin’s propaganda. In

general, we need to talk directly, and not look at one another

through the foggy glass of Kremlin propaganda and layers of

various myths. Third, facts of political repressions in Putin’s Russia,

including in relation to the National-Bolsheviks, must be roundly condemned

on the part of European structures. Extremely important in this regard

is the examination of the case «NBP v. RF» in the European

court of human rights. Several complaints against the actions of

the Russian authorities from the National-Bolsheviks have

already been combined into one proceeding in Strasbourg. The

case has been assigned a priority character. The Kremlin too is

attaching no small significance to this trial. Speaking to which is,

for example, the hysterical article by the head of the committee

of the Federation Council of the RF for International Affairs,

Mikhail Margelov, with the characteristic title «We need to know

how to defend European values», in which he attempts to besmirch the

NBP in the eyes of European society. The senator’s apprehension

is understandable – if the arguments of the National-Bolsheviks

will be accepted by the court, this fact will break the entire

system of managed democracy in Russia. So the decision of the

ECHR will be historic in any event, no matter what it will be.