Limonov by Adam Curtis & Mark Ames

                       INDEPENDENT WEBSITE

 This is one of the 130 pages of this extensive website dedicated to Eduard Limonov.

A website with a lot of analysis, unusual photos and videos, and much new information. (2021)

<-------------All the links.

In French, English, Spanish, Italian, Russian.



                                                 (in english)

                                 *****     *****     *****                    


Adam Curtis, the British filmmaker whose many great films and blog posts for the BBC we’ve been ramming down our readers’ throats (in the parlance of our times) to these past few years, has a new piece about Russian politics, punk and avant-garde that is a must-read.

It’s the only work I’ve ever read that makes sense of Edward Limonov—the former eXile columnist and leader of the radical opposition—and places Limonov and his Kremlin nemesis, Vladislav Surkov, in the context of Russia’s post-Communist politics, and Russia’s wild punk rock avant-garde.

It’s rare, as in “non-existent” rare, to read a Westerner who grasps the surface barbarism and extremism of Russian politics and art, and rarer that they can place Limonov’s role in it—Curtis manages this feat, and it’s quite an ambitious piece for a blog post.

Middlebrows have spent the past couple of decades trying to fit their favorite worthless narrative frame over post-Soviet Russia—Weimar Germany, post-war West Germany, Nazi Germany, the anti-Germany—and even though none of those silly comparisons ever explained anything to anyone, they never tired of using them to misunderstand Russia. One of those cliche-peddling middlebrows who peddled the whole line of bad references and historical analogies isour old nemesis Michael McFaul—recently named the US Ambassador to Russia.

Which begs the ol’ question: “If yer so smart, why ain’t you Ambassador?”

Yeah, well, Joshua Foust is winning too. 

Back to Curtis: After tracing the rise of Russia’s punk/maximalist avant-garde, Curtis introduces Limonov the political radical, and Yegor Letov, the (now deceased) god of Russian punk:

And this is where Curtis’ post gets even more interesting, original–and deadly accurate.

 Reading Adam Curtis’ piece brought back a lot of memories: The first GrOb concert I went to in Moscow in 1993 with Dr. Dolan and some of my Russian banker friends (they were graduates of the journalism and literary institutes but went into banking for the same reason we now have to), a concert that quickly devolved into a riot, OMON troops firing shotguns to scare the punks, pummeling them with truncheons (Vova, my banker buddy, saved me from an OMONets who was running up behind me with his truncheon cocked over his head), the punks charging at the OMONtsi and setting a tramvai car on fire on its tracks as their one riot trophy…

Curtis’ article also reminded me of a strange meeting I had in 2000, when Taibbi and I were in the US promoting our book, The eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia.

We met with a recently-retired American intelligence official who fed us some stories about yet more foul corruption that Clinton, Gore and their investment banker friends were mixed up in in the Yeltsin Clusterfuck that the Clinton/Rubin people were so deeply involved in, and criminally culpable in. Towards the end of our lunch, the mysterious, extremely grim retired intel official got even more grim and and serious, and told us to keep an eye on Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s PR “Wizard of Oz” whose trajectory Curtis contrasts so perceptively with Limonov’s.

From my memory of that meeting, the intel guy told us that in the summer of 1999, Surkov had arranged a crucial, highly secret meeting in a Spanish coastal resort involving Boris Berezovsky, then-FSB chief Vladimir Putin, and a top Chechen rebel leader, possibly Shamil Basaev or one of his surrogates.

We all know what happened shortly after this alleged meeting: Yeltsin appointed Putin as his new prime minister, Basaev’s Chechen separatist rebels launched an invasion into the Russian republic of Dagestan, and then terror spread across Moscow and Russia: apartment buildings started blowing up, killing hundreds of Russians, sparking Putin’s invasion of Russia. Putin’s rating shot up from about 3% to the most popular Russian politician of the past decade.   


A little over a year after Putin’s invasion of Chechnya, Limonov was jailed, becoming Vladimir Putin’s first political prisoner; when Limonov eventually beat the rap and was released from prison in mid-2003, he emerged bigger than ever, the most powerful leader of the nascent democratic opposition, so powerful that even US-backed chess champion Garry Kasparov formed an alliance with Limonov, because Limonov was the only opposition figure in Russia with real followers.

And more importantly, Limonov was the only opposition figure who had worked out a real oppositional politics: radical, novel, theatrical, and inspirational.

Curtis’s piece on Russia focuses more the early radical-right aesthetics of Limonov’s politics, when his punk influences were more apparent (Curtis himself first emerged in the late 70s punk avant-garde as part of a movement that included the Gang of Four, around the time that Limonov was involved in the first wave of New York’s punk scene). But Limonov’s prison experience affected his politics as much as the new political environment he faced after he was released from prison–a new political reality molded largely by Surkov.

I asked Limonov about what happened to that punk-fascist element in the National-Bolsheviks after he got out of jail… and he told me: “Why would we bother playing with fascism anymore when the Kremlin is already fascist? We are an opposition party. And today the most radical position of all is to fight for democracy and elections–against Putin’s fascism. It’s far-right fascism that is banal and oppressive now.”

To quote Yegor Letov’s great anthem: “Я всегда буду против!” (“I will always be anti-!”)

To Limonov’s credit, he called out exactly what the Medvedev presidency would be like in his last column for The eXile before we were shut down by the Kremlin. While Council on Foreign Relations types kept holding out the absurd hope that they could split the “liberal” Medvedev from the “revanchist” Putin, Limonov laid out clearly what to expect from Medvedev back in the spring of 2008:

When the four Kremlin agents visited The eXile’s offices in June 2008, the first thing they asked me about was Edward Limonov. It’s easy to see why.


While we’re on the subject of Limonov, I want to repost one of my favorite of all of his eXile columns here. If you think you can pigeonhole Limonov, first read this great piece—you can’t understand Limonov, the appeal of the National-Bolsheviks and the Russian mindset, without understanding the sheer energy and pride in Russian self-hatred—or what looks to Westerners like self-hatred:  

Through Black Glasses (Limonov on Russia) 

By Edward Limonov 

ussian nation was created by Russian climate and Russian blood.

Contrary to common misconception, Russians living on territory of Russian Federation are not of Slavic blood. The ancient inhabitants of Kiev’s principate were Slavic people, that’s true.

When Moscow principality was created a few centuries later in the 14th century, its population was overwhelmingly Urgo-Finns. Descendants of Kiev’s genealogical tree, their princes were originally of Slavic blood. But when Kiev’s armies moved north with their small troops, they conquered enormous vast variety of Finnish tribes who lived on enormous territory of European Russia. Only aristocrats of Russia were originally Slavs. Simple folk were descendants of Finns. That is why it is practically no different between “Chuvash” and “Finn.” And that is why Serbs are so different from Russians. Because Serbs are Slavs.

Russians are a depressive tribe because of centuries they were living in shadows of moisty forests. Russians are as unhappy with alcohol as Finns are.

So, forget about Slavs. When you will adopt my vision of Russian history, and of Russians, you will understand who Russians are.

I am the best Russian writer, but I am forced to confess that I hate Russian language. Russian words are painfully long, they remind me of naked slimy worms. You know, those pink awful creatures that you can see on some hot summer night on path you walk. Worms get out of soil to copulate under the moonlight. Russian words are copulating on my table every day and night. I am looking at them with hate and I am screaming. I am gnashing my teeth. Why should put “icheskaya” to the end of “social” in “Social Republic?” Seven letters I am adding for what fuck? Fucking “icheskaya!” Hysterical, hystericheskii laugh goes out of me when I am imaging those fucking Urgo-Finns in their shadowy forests. They move in slow motion, they take their time. Why wasn’t I born in a clear lucid language dealing in “Achtung!” and “Shnell?” And when I think that Russians are only a handful of 142 million readers, it’s really depressing for a writer.

The so called “Russian Soul” can be also explained by origins of the Russian people. Proverbial slowness of Finns (“hot Finnish lads!”) can be seen as phenomenon of Russian soul. Enigmatical Russian Soul is simply Russian man, uncertain, slow to decide, hesitating, never sure of itself, never sure of its own decision. Forest man with a milky skin, with thin blond hair. Not a Slav, but a Finn, Finn, Finn! And don’t accuse me of racism. Happily we have Turks and all sorts of Mongols amongst us. But the sick from alcoholism urban Russian Europeans are descendants of native Urgo-Finns and their tribes. They have shadowy mysterious souls because for hundred generations their ancestors were living by the river banks in the forests. They like to get drunk and to weep. Of too many trees, of too much of river’s water the Russian Soul is created.

Then, of course, we live in a terrible climate. We have eight months of winter and only four of summer. This summer, however, can be called a “summer” only such on condition that you have never travelled abroad. The lack of sunshine is chronic on the Russia’s territory. Everything is explained by its climate and the Urgo-Finn blood. Even more, the blood is explained by the climate. It moves slowly because of the freeze. No sunshine makes our kids look sad. When I was young, I thought almost everyday why “we Slavs” (I thought we were Slavic people) living in such an unhuman, uncomfortable climate? Why we didn’t move out of that terrible territory? However, I had tried to move. Our national ideas for centuries was to move south. We fought First World War to capture the the straights of Bosphorus and Dardanelles. We didn’t get it, alas. (Before that, in January of 1878, we were some kilometers from Istanbul-Constantinople before English bastards intervened.) Russian man carries all weight of his climate on itself. My deepest belief is that Russia should swallow Kazakhstan territory if we want our children to have sunshine.

Russian women are very, very bad. The worst of all. Russian women is like the Russian Government. Most Russian women at least are good looking when they are in their twenties. Some Russian women are gorgeously beautiful. But they are bad. They are treacherous because they have no moral principles. Christian faith was eliminated during existence of the Soviet Union so nobody taught Russian women morals. No such discipline was taught in Soviet schools. Russian woman hates man because she is envying him. She wants to be as brutal and stupid as him, she wants to lay on a divan doing nothing as man does, but she has less possibilities. Russian woman is disastrous, relationships with her destined to be tragedy. There is no way that you will end happily. You must subjugate her. If not, she will subjugate you. On both occasions, you will lose. Don’t forget that abortions and divorces were permitted even in Stalin’s Russia, so our country educated women as bitches. Millions of bitches walking our streets. I am absolutely and positively on the side of Muslim strict code of behavior for women. Their system of separation of sexes if effective and healthy.

Russian Government is bloody beast eating human flesh. It is deeply medieval in its principle conceptions. Russian Government strongly believed that Russians are subjects of Russian Government, that they are its property, that Russians should be physically punished for not showing proper respect for its Government. European Governments behave cruelly towards foreign populations, towards Yugoslavs or toward Iraqis. But Russian Government represses its own citizens. Russian Government never said one honest word. Blatant lies, we, citizens, hear from Government. They terrorize us.

Their instrument are police, brutal and unhuman, just millions of scoundrels dressed in grey uniforms. And judges: archaic men and women with terrible medieval faces and black souls under their judges clothes.

As you understand, my view of Russia is macabre, like Lovecraft’s work. I hope country will change soon, I am working for it. Then I will look at my country through rosy tinted glasses. Just wait.

Would you like to know more?

Read the Adam Curtis piece “The Years of Stagnation and the Poodles of Power” from his BBC blog.

For more background, read the Vanity Fair feature on The eXile, Limonov and Russia: “Lost Exile”.

Would you like to know more?

Buy The eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia co-authored by Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi (Grove). 


This is one of the 130 pages of this extensive website dedicated to Eduard Limonov.

A website with a lot of analysis, unusual photos and videos, and much new information. (2021)

<------All the links top left.

In French, English, Spanish, Italian, Russian. 



                  (in English)