What's up with the west's fixation on Aleksandr Dugin?
Albeit notorious, right-wing Russian ideologue, Alexander Dugin, has no influence on Russian public policy and no access to Russia president Vladimir Putin.
Marlene Laurelle over at Foreign Affairs magazine ("Afraid of Putin's Shadow") explains:
Dugin has no official status within the Russian government. [...] Nor is Dugin a part of Putin’s inner circle. The two men might not have ever even met. (Dugin is known to take every opportunity to publicize his personal connections with the Russian political elite, but has never bragged about having met the Russian president.) [...] Dugin has no known financial interests that could have been secured by an alleged inclusion in Putin’s inner circle, unlike many of the other officials on the sanction list.
So why is he being targeted by the latest installment of Russia sanctions? Is it a matter of profound ignorance, or the desire to link Putin to right-wing Dugin?
Similarly, Dugin has benefited from an odd scenario of being more famous abroad than at home. Since the mid-1990s, he has drawn the curiosity of Western scholars because of his prolific work as a nationalist ideologist in Russia. The media caught on as well since the extreme nature of his theories made for appealing stories and headlines. However, this fixation on Dugin has gone too far. He is now being presented by the U.S. media as Putin’s “godfather” or “brain.”
Once again, the perception of Russia, founded in western self-delusions, trumps the reality. US sanctions target Dugin because the west is not dealing with Russia as it actually exists (and where Dugin is without influence on official policy), but with Russia of their imagination. The Russia as the semi-barbarian nemesis of the west – for which it is only natural it would be guided by the ideology of a retrograde right-wing nationalist like Dugin.