You can not fight the far right by giving a platform to their friends

The editors of Transform, a socialist journal that aims to strengthen the fight against the far right, are to publish a letter from me protesting at their use of an article by Boris Kagarlitsky, a Russian “left” writer who collaborates with fascists and ultra-nationalists.

In 2014, Kagarlitsky energetically supported armed action in eastern Ukraine by Russian forces, mainly ultra-nationalist and fascist volunteers. He also began to cooperate with, and to share platforms with, extreme ideologues of Russian ultra-nationalism and fascism. Anti-fascists and trade unionists in Russia broke all ties with him. I gave details about Kagarlitsky’s position in 2014-16 in an open letter to the Stop the War campaign here.

Kagarlitsky continues to collaborate with the ultra-nationalists. Earlier this year he addressed a Moscow rally supporting Russia’s claim against Japan to the Kurile Islands, alongside the the fascist mercenary Igor Strelkov-Girkin and other ultra-nationalist speakers.

At the same time, Kagarlitsky has never expressed solidarity with the young Russian anti-fascists who have been tortured by the security services and put on trial in the notorious “network case”. Anti-fascists in Russia and internationally have united in a defence campaign around these victims of state repression; Kagarlitsky and his friends have not.

Despite this, Transform published an article by Kagarlitsky – about France, not Russia – in the last issue. This week I wrote to the editors to express concern. One replied, saying that my letter would be published in the next issue, later this year, and that they were “not aware” of Kagarlitsky’s cooperation with the right.

To raise awareness, I have put on line this short statement that you are reading.

This gap in the Transform editors’ knowledge is regrettable. All participants in Russia’s beleaguered anti-fascist movement know of Kagarlitsky’s high-profile defection. Plenty of material alerting English-language readers to his changed stance was published in 2015-16.

Obviously this is not just about Russia, or about Kagarlitsky. The right-wing populists and fascists, through nationalism and camp-ism, pull “left” demagogues into their orbit more widely. This trend must be understood and fought.

Simon Pirani, 25 July 2019.

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