In the first half of the 1990s, liberals were unable to stem the drift to Russian great power nationalism. Liberals were at the helm of Russian politics for only a short period of time in the late 1980s and early 1990s and were marginalised by the time of the 1993 coup d’état and the elections in 1993–1996. In the second half of the 1990s Russia transitioned from a European to a Eurasian identity.
The small number of Russian national democrats became great power nationalists. Russian national democracy continues to be a project with an unclear destination. National democracy in Russia lacks the two drivers found in Ukraine and the three Baltic states of protecting and reviving national languages and culture and defending national independence. Both goals have no relevance to Russia because the Russian nation has never been threatened by denationalisation and practically all Russian political forces have sought unions and empires and not an independent nation-state.
The ‘red-white-brown’ coalition hails from different areas of the Russian political spectrum but nevertheless its three groups are united in key fundamental areas. National Bolsheviks and Eurasianists, black hundreds and blackshirts define ‘Russia’ as much larger than the Russian Federation, demand Western recognition of Russia as a great power with sole hegemonic control over Eurasia, praise Ivan the Terrible and Stalin, and loathe Western values. They poke fun at an ‘artificial’ Ukraine and separate Ukrainian nation and adamantly believe Ukrainians are one of three branches of a pan-Russian nation. The next chapter analyses the dogmatic spirituality and the deep-seated messianism of the Russian Orthodox Churches, the belief in Ukraine as an unquestionable part of ‘Holy Rus’ and the Russian World and use of Kremlin rhetoric on the Russian-Ukrainian war.