Nationalist from Moscow suburb all but wins local election

by Anna Rudnitskaya

Moscow News (Russia)
June 9, 2004

While old democrats argue with new liberals, young elements have moved
into politics under “Russia for Russians” slogans and, confusingly,
to incantations that “fascism in Russia will not come to pass”

Vladimir Yermolaev is young, well educated, and well pleased with
himself. He has good reason for this: At 27, this past May he ran
in municipal elections for the first time, garnering 34% of the vote
outright -without any “administrative resources” either, or any other
resources for that matter. His resources are his slogans. “Russia
for Russians, Moscow for Muscovites” just about sums them up.


“I’ve been reading Izvestia since seven,” Yermolaev told me. “My
parents were avowed anti-Communists and I was brought up in a dissident
spirit, thinking: The Communists will be driven out, and everything
will be just fine. In 1995, I voted for Gaidar and in 1999 for the
Union of Right Forces (SPS). But then I began to have my doubts. Not
surprisingly, I particularly resented the appearance of hundreds of
thousands of people from other states, above all from former Union
republics, in Moscow and in Russia in general. So when I saw leaflets
of the Movement Against Illegal Immigrants on the metro, I realized
that I had found ideological soul-mates. I remember that day: I was
simply happy to hear something that was in harmony with my own mood,
and I very much liked the people – all of them my age or younger. So
I joined.”

For the benefit of those who do not know, it was the Movement Against
Illegal Immigrants that, in the wake of the bomb attack on the Moscow
metro, organized a sanctioned rally under the slogan: “How much longer
must we tolerate Chechen crime against Russian citizens?!” It was
the Movement Against Illegal Immigrants that, two years ago, after
an Armenian pogrom in the town of Krasnoarmeisk, outside Moscow,
demanded the release of its organizers.

For all that, when I cited Yermev’s election campaign leaflet,
mentioning “black occupants,” he was hurt:

“It didn’t say ‘black’. After all, we are civilized people.”

Are you not worried by the presence of skinheads at your civilized

“Quite the contrary, I find these people far more likable than the
indifferent slaves of the consumer society. People such as skinhead
leaders will eventually constitute the elite of this country.”

You are similarly complacent about the fact that it was under your
slogans that ethnic Armenian houses were raided, and men and women

“Well, you can say that ethnic Armenian houses were raided, or you can
say that there was a conflict between the indigenous population and
Armenian immigrants. There are thousands of inva-ders in the country,
and it is increasingly difficult to drive them out.”

What was written in the leaflet you saw in the metro?

“Let me see… Something to the effect that there are 1.5 million
Azeris living in Moscow and that Moscow is the capital of Azerbaijan.”

What does it take for an advocate of liberal values from an
intellectual family to become an activist of a Nazilike movement? It
is enough to tell him that 1.5 million Azeris are to blame for his
country’s woes and that to make life better, they must be kicked out.


The district of Orekhovo-Borisovo Yuzhnoye is a typical Moscow bedroom
suburb. It was its residents that, in a municipal election this past
May, gave Yermolaev, a candidate sponsored by the Movement Against
Illegal Immigrants, 34% of the vote.

They say that United Russia candidate Irina Dmitrieva, a school
principal (in the end, she won by a narrow margin, with just a few
hundred votes more than Yermolaev), campaigned with food parcels that
were handed to war veterans purportedly on the occasion of V-Day. Her
rival gave as good as he got, distributing door to door leaflets
with quotations from Mayor Luzhkov: “Moscow is a Rus-sian city!”
(Moskovsky Komsomolets daily, Sept. 22, 2003) and President Putin:
“The problem of illegal migration is becoming a serious threat to
national security” (from a statement at an RF Security Council session,
Nov. 29, 2000), thus probably utterly baffling the voters who until
recently have traditionally been voting for Putin and Luzhkov.

On the whole, even though he lost, Vladimir Yermolaev is satisfied
with the election:

“I was greatly excited; I constantly felt the support of the people.
We had a meeting at a housing maintenance and repair administration
office, attended by some 25 senior citizens, whereupon a woman from
the veterans’ council came up to me and said: ‘Well done, Vladimir,
we are with you!’ We are still in touch and we’ve agreed to work
together. Generally speaking, the result was very good.”

A week later, the only indication of the past election at School #986
where Vladimir Yermolaev had been a student and that served as one
of the two polling stations where he got the most votes, is scraps
of leaflets on the doors. The school principal’s secretary could
not remember a student named Yermolaev, but his platform raised no
objections with her.

“So what? What he is saying is absolutely right. There are so many of
these Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Azeris that we just don’t hear any Russian
spoken here.”

True, she voted for Dmitrieva all the same: “After all, she is a
school principal.”

A Common Future

Incidentally, this is an idee fixe with all new right and old
left elements: As long as they are kept off the air and have the
formidable administrative resource brought against them, they can
for a time forget about the federal parliament, focusing instead on
local, municipal elections – on the assumption that people on the
ground are more concerned with heating or local amenities than with
abstract discussions about the destiny of Motherland. Yet while the
new right and old left are only pondering action, Vladimir Yermolaev
has already all but won. What is especially important is that his
voters were swayed by his pledge to drive all “invaders” from the
neighborhood far more than by his promise to landscape the area.

Inspired by his first success, Yermolaev is determined to pursue a
political career.

“See, Anna,” the young sociologist smiles almost condescendingly.
“All parties are phantoms really, while we are a real movement of
people who are working to uphold their idea, and that’s our strength.”

At parting he said: “We have a great future.”

There is no reason to doubt this. MN