- "The task of these Ukrainian Nationalists and their Russian counterparts seems to be to maintain ill will towards each other."
- "I consider myself a committed ideological adherent of autocracy (monarchy) in Russia."
- "Rogozin is simply a project in public relations. You want Nationalism? You’ve got it! Look at me! It’s a tactical card played by Surkov, nothing else."
- "I am 100% convinced that Bolshevik power still holds the reins in Russia. "
You probably never heard of him but Igor Strelkov is famous in Russia and highly esteemed.
He first caught the public's eye in April, during the early stages of the war in East Ukraine as a commander of rebel forces fighting in the town of Slavyansk.
As a man of considerable military experience this Russian citizen traveled to Donbass to join the fight of the people there. By July he was being recognized as the highest-ranking commander of rebel forces.
What perhaps made him more popular with the public than anything else were his reserved, down-to-earth manners. There was no bluster in his act.
Over and over again he refused to overplay the successes of the rebel forces, which made the rebels stand in stark contrast against the Ukrainian side which gave sensationalist accounts of its successes and wildly optimistic prognoses.
He also seemed to display humanity uncommon in war. In one instance he rebuked a fellow rebel commander for carrying an attack on Ukrainian army checkpoint that resulted in a dozen dead on the Ukrainian side.
Since the conscripts in question were not engaged in offensive action there was, in Strelkov's view, no need to attack them. Indeed, a devout Christian and the proponent of the White Idea Strelkov seems to consciously emulate the 19th century stereotype of gentleman-officer.
In mid-August Strelkov, in circumstances that have never been properly explained, sensationally stepped down from his position with the rebel forces and traveled back to Russia. Why he did so just as the fighting in Donbass was to escalate yet again is unclear.
Probably the most widespread hypothesis is that he stepped down under pressure from Moscow, which was weary of his rising popularity. Strelkov himself has never directly confirmed this.
Kremlin's fears may not be entirely baseless. In the 1990s a soldier with a similar story, Alexander Lebed, who first caught the spotlight by commanding the remnants of the Soviet army in Moldova in 1992 to break up the fight between Russian-speaking separatists and Moldovan forces, a few years later emerged as the most dangerous challenger to Boris Yeltsin.
Nonetheless, since returning to Russia Strelkov has been adamant he is a soldier and does not seek office for himself and has expressed support for Putin. However, he has offered scathing critique of what he deems "the fifth column" in Russia, which in his opinion includes people who have access to Vladimir Putin and are a part of his circle.
In any case, Strelkov is here to stay. Albeit not a politician as such, he will be doing his part to influence the course Russia takes and given his influence you may as well get to know him.
What follows is a compilation of statements made by Igor Strelkov between 2011 and 2013. That is before he emerged as a public figure and can be seen as a reflection of his most fundamental beliefs.
Igor Strelkov: "Russian, Ukrainians (Ruthenians) and Belorussians represent three branches of the Russian Ethnos. The task of these Ukrainian Nationalists and their Russian counterparts seems to be to maintain ill will towards each other. What needs to be understood? The fundamental task – to prevent the re-emergence of a unified, coherent state based on these shared Slavic roots."
IS: "War is, above all, fear, a fatal numbing tiredness, inescapable filth. Moreover, war, for those directly participating in it, is a colossal explosion of emotion and sensation, after which civilian life seems simply without meaning. In war both the finest and most degraded aspects of the human condition assume their most vivid form."
IS: "This can manifest itselves in alcoholism and debasement. However one can also realise oneself in a positive way. The disciplined forces of a great Empire are simply morally and spiritually beyond comparison to those of a mob."
IS: "I was present during the collapse of the [Soviet] Union as an aware adult (20 years old). Even at that point I was a conscious monarchist but, being subject to the anti-Soviet hysteria, I was overwhelmed by contradictory emotions.
On one hand I felt satisfaction at the sight of the destruction of what was fundamentally an anti-Christian, anti-Russian and inhuman state.
On the other hand there was the acknowledgement that the State was being literally destroyed and from those fragments it was fanciful to hope for the rebirth of the old Russia.
There was also a strong premonition that those who spearheaded the revolution, represented none other than the most vile elements of the Soviet Nomenklatura and acted purely in support of their own material interests. Unfortunately that premonition came fully to fruition."
IS: "If during our age a serious war breaks out (I wouldn’t discount the possibility), do you really think that anyone could go through it with “unsullied hands”? From personal experience I can testify that saints in the modern-day Special Forces simply don’t last very long."
IS: "After having understood that I am a soldier, all the “young students” (as it turned out) started to accuse me of “serving the evil regime of Medvedev & Putin” and of being an “enemy of Russia”. I was frequently referred to as a “scoundrel” or as “ignorant” and other “pleasant” epithets (including some that are not fit to print)."
IS: "I am speaking about those who are not only able to stare at the accursed TV-box but who meditate upon it and take action. In any society this comprises between 5–6 percent of the population (in our case it is probably less given the baleful effect on Russian minds of the Soviet experience). On their behalf the struggle must be fought. (That struggle itself is already in process.)"
IS: "Even the status quo itself teeters on the brink of catastrophe. The collapse could happen in a matter of years and, should it not be averted by some kind of miracle, it will inevitably occur, burying for ever even the remains of our Russian civilisation from which by day we draw nourishment, all the while struggling to ignore what is going on around us.
In order to escape this trap it is imperative that a rebirth of Russia is required in order to have any hope at all of preserving any of our past traditions."
IS: "If the people are armed and organised then the plans of our rulers to count on the followers of Kadyrov will turn to dust. These people are heroes only in their own legends (they are essentially all traitors and deserters from previous wars) and are hardly likely to place themselves on the line.
They are perfectly capable of shooting someone in the back from an ambush but they would not put themselves in danger. In the event of a real ‘dust-up’ they are likely to simply spit on it all and go off and rob a few jewellery stores."
IS: "I consider myself a committed ideological adherent of autocracy (monarchy) in Russia. At the time I was one of the first oath-takers to Vladimir Kirillovich. I was young and impressionable. My disappointment was bitter. [Vladimir Kirillovich Romanov (1917-1992) - the son of grand prince Vladimir Kirillovich, cousin to Nicholas II; Head of the Russian imperial household and pretender to the Russian throne.]"
IS: "Gentlemen! All elections are really held in the FAPSI (Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information). It doesn’t matter who and how many people voted. In the GAS (Automatic State System) election system the result is predetermined by which ‘favourites’ simply cannot receive a percentage of the votes less than input.
The chosen candidate simply cannot poll less than 60% even if only a couple of people in the whole country voted for him."
IS: "May God be merciful to Russia and grant her a sovereign ruler. There is simply no-one who fits the bill amongst our contemporary politicians."
IS: "The Fatherland is an abstraction. To each and everyone the word means something different. For some it represents a value for which one is willing to sacrifice. For others it’s just an empty sound and a comfortable alibi for their own disreputable dealings.
However the State has a completely concrete meaning. There is no gain in mixing up the two, State and Society – they are fundamentally different things.
Kadyrov was dubbed a ‘Hero of Russia’ by the State (in fact his own nominated government) for some services or other to the State (again his government). For him Russia is absolutely not his Society."
IS: "The definition of the White Idea is extremely amorphous. I’m inclined to consider that it best finds it expression in the works of Solonevich and Illyin. There are many who could differ with me on that view."
IS: "I am 100% convinced that Bolshevik power still holds the reins in Russia. I also agree that the Bolshevik idea has mutated so much as to become unrecognisable. It is clear that the formal ideology of the Bolsheviks has become its antithesis. However in its deepest essence it retains critical aspects; its anti-Russian, unpatriotic, heretical trajectories remain fully intact.
Its adherents are the linear ideological heirs of those who perpetrated the October revolution in 1917. They have changed their brand but the essence is exactly the same. Now having shed the ideology which hindered their personal enrichment and their diversion into material pleasure, they have remained in power.
In 1991 there was a coup. The counter-revolution, to this day, has not been carried out."
IS: "Given the Western imperatives [to destabilise Russia], the attacks on Putin will not cease. They will continue with renewed vigour. Does this mean that we should support Putin? Of course not!
More to the point, rather, it would be possible to support him, on condition that he make a change of course, a break with the criminal and that thoroughly bandit circle around him. However the likelihood of him taking that course is vanishingly small. His policies swing like a pendulum.
He tried to satisfy at the same time the West and bases his constituency on Patriotism. This is the typical politics of a Latin American ‘Banana Republic’ Dictatorship which has fought its way to power and, will at any costs, maintain it."
IS: "In line with demographic projections, within 15 years in every single Moscow school, Tadjiks, Kirghizis and Kazakhs will comprise no less than half and up to two thirds of the children enrolled. Azeris and other Caucasians will comprise another quarter.
The Russian enrollment will comprise only between 10-15%. We already see in our infant classes (I know from personal experience in one case and I have been informed by teachers regarding other instances) where the number of Kazaks and Asians is greater than the number of Russians enrolled.
Do you seriously imagine that they will care about exhibitions and museums commemorating some distant civil war (where Russians killed other Russians)?"
IS: "It is deeply unfortunate that honest Russians, patriots, caring about the fate of our land, interpret our epic and tortured journey through history as an inspiration for the resumption of enmity and bigotry. It is precisely this enmity and bigotry that devastated our land."
IS: "Rogozin is simply a project in public relations. You want Nationalism? You’ve got it! Look at me! It’s a tactical card played by Surkov, nothing else. This is simply a façade to prevent the emergence of a genuine leader. The presidential administration has a production line that regularly outputs such figurines."
IS: "The people are one, one whole - indivisible. You can’t really categorise and separate them into simple and educated. When the people really do “break themselves up” then you get confusion and civil war. It’s only when these artificial barriers are broken down that these wars can end."
Commentary from out contributor the Saker:
I was amazed to see that even though Strelkov considered himself a proponent of the "White" idea and a monarchist in the political line of Iliin and Solonevich, there was so much in his views I disagreed with. I guess my views have changed more than I had suspected.
In fact, there is a lot I disagree with him, including his views about Putin, Rogozin, Kadyrov, non-Russian minorities, elections in Russia and much more.
I even categorically disagree with him when he says that Bolsheviks are still in power in Russia (I believe the Bolsheviks lost power in Russia at Stalin's death. Khrushchev was no Bolshevik, and neither were his successors).
Frankly, Strelkov reminds me very much of somebody who used to be one of my closest friends and with whom I had to part ways because of profound and irreconcilable differences in values but whom I still love very much.
I see Strelkov as an idealist, a man of honor and integrity, a solider and a patriot. I have the utmost respect for him.
But looking at the quotes above, I cannot honestly say that I see much of a political future for him.
Frankly, I find this type of personality way too "ideological" and I have seen where that kind of mindset leads: with the best of intentions, to the worst possible consequences.
The other problem with this type is that instead of uniting - they polarize.
For all these reasons, it pains me to admit that I respectfully but profoundly disagree with most of Strelkov's views and that I don't believe that he can be an effective spokesman for Novorussia.
Too get even more sense of this guy check out his first press conference in Russia, this September:
An interview to a Russian TV channel:
And his latest news conference: