Aleksandr Dugin is a radical, Trump supporting, self-proclaimed philosopher from Russia. Traditionalism and cultural purity are two of his most valued philosophical tenets. And while his influence may be overstated in Russia, his ideology has infiltrated white nationalist circles in the United States and parts of Europe.
One of Dugin’s biggest fans is Richard Spencer, the head of the racist National Policy Institute (NPI) and the man who popularized the term “alt-right.” Dugin’s work has been published on Spencer’s former website Alternate Right. And Spencer’s wife, Nina Spencer (who also goes by the aliases Nina Kouprianova, or Byzantina) has regularly translated Dugin’s work into English on her blog (though the blog gives the disclaimer saying that translated words are not necessarily the views of the translator).
One of those translations was an ode to Igor Strelkov, a former commander of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine who the Ukrainian government has accused of being a Russian agent and war criminal. Strelkov, also known as Igor Girkin, wants a new Russia to one day span all of Belarus and Ukraine. In January, he gave a chilling interview where he said he stopped looting in the Ukrainian city of Slovyansk by executing the looters.
“He is our cultural heritage of enormous value,” Dugin wrote in the piece translated on Nina Spencer’s website. “This is why so many wanted to have him killed, get rid of him, minimize his significance and vulgarize him, and now bring him down even more so. If we allow this to happen, then we are worthless.”
The original piece was written by Dugin in August 2014.
Spencer’s adherence to Dugin’s ideology was shown as recently as last month when he tweeted a message of Dugin’s, using the same “swamp” metaphor that President-elect Donald Trump has employed when pledging to “drain the swamp.”
Dugin on the "global swamp." pic.twitter.com/hvdbmPFQV3
— Richard ☝🏻Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) November 12, 2016
Spencer invited Dugin to be the keynote speaker at a 2014 conference in Budapest that was set to gather a number of far right wing ideologues, racists, and uber-nationalists. The conference never took place. Dugin was denied a visa; Spencer was detained for 72 hours, then banned from both Hungary and the majority of the European Union for three years. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán — a man with deeply Islamophobic views — personally ordered Interior Minister Sándor Pintér to “use all means available” to prevent the conference, according to the Budapest Beacon.
Prior to the conference’s cancellation, two members of Hungary’s radical nationalist movement Jobbik pulled out. Party chairman Gábor Vona, who has lectured at Lomonosov University in Russia on Dugin’s invitation, and its deputy caucus leader Márton Gyöngyösi — a man who was criticized for demanding Hungary draw up a list of Jews who are “national security risks” — deemed the event too controversial.
Dugin’s ties to the American white nationalist movement go beyond Spencer. Last year, Dugin recorded a speech entitled “To My American Friends in Our Common Struggle” that was played at a conference in California, Business Insider reported. The conference was hosted by Matthew Heimbach, a man the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “the face of a new generation of white nationalists.” In his video address, Dugin told the California crowd that their way of life was in peril.
“American society in its collective dimension as a community of Anglo-Saxon or European group settlers that have created the states is now endangered, as well as other ethnic or cultural or historic collectivities,” Dugin said. “So the American people is endangered in the same way or maybe more than the rest of humanity.”
Dugin also has links to Preston Wiginton, a 51 year old white nationalist who enrolled at Texas A&U while in his forties with a plan to walk onto the football team (he dropped out after a year). Wiginton invited Spencer to speak at his alma mater this year and invited Dugin to give a Skype address last year, since Dugin is banned from entering the United States by the Treasury Department. Dugin’s talk, entitled “American Liberalism Must Be Destroyed,” drew 17 people.
His speech at Texas A&M was more moderate than others. He denied being a proponent of fascism (despite his prior writings on a “fourth political theory” that fused fascism and communism), and denied wanting to kill Ukrainians (though he is on record saying that there are “terrible people” in Ukraine who must be “killed, killed, and killed.)
At one point in the talk he said he believed, “to be liberal and Nazi is the same.”
Wiginton’s prominence in white nationalist circles also extends to Russia, where, according to the SPLC, he sublets an apartment from former KKK boss and avid Trump supporter David Duke. Wiginton says Russian skin heads are his “best friends.”
Outside of the U.S., Dugin has connections to Nikos Michaloliakos, the jailed leader of Greece’s far right nationalist party Golden Dawn, and met with the party’s representatives in 2014 to discuss the annexation of Crimea. His rhetoric has been echoed by Emmanuel Leroy, a speechwriter for the Front National’s chief Marine Le Pen.
In a 2008 essay, Leroy calls for the European Union to be replaced by “a continental economy…from Brest to Vladivostok” and advocates for “solidarisme”, “a nationalist, economically protectionist ideology derived from the traditional fascist ‘Third Position’,” the Daily Beast reported.
This is part of a series focusing on the links between white nationalists in Russia and the West. Read part one here. Part three focuses on Dugin’s influence on the white nationalist movement and how it connects to elements in the Trump administration.