Nationalists Meet to Form Coalition

MTA Young Guard being held as Belov, left in glasses, and Krylov, right, watch.
Leading nationalist organizations formed a broad coalition Sunday to promote nationalist ideology and broaden their appeal among voters.

More than 100 activists from Great Russia, the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, or DPNI, and smaller nationalist groups gathered Sunday at the Cosmos Hotel for a congress aimed at uniting disparate nationalist organizations.

"We have to unite our efforts to form representation in the legislative governing institutions," DPNI leader Alexander Belov said outside the conference.

The coalition will seek to give a positive spin to nationalist ideology among voters and boost the popularity ratings of nationalist groups, congress participants said.

Great Russia, formed last year by Dmitry Rogozin, the current Russian envoy to NATO, has twice been denied registration as a political party.

Its current leader, former State Duma Deputy Andrei Savelyev, said the coalition was aimed at consolidating nationalist groups into a single powerful political force.

"The Russian nationalist movement … is divided into small groups, and our task is to unite this still aimless stream into a purposeful stream," Savelyev told the congress.

The coalition will focus on bringing broad groups of voters — primarily from the middle class — into the nationalist fold by altering the image of nationalist groups, Belov said.

"So far we haven't talked about social problems or liberal values, we've mostly talked about immigration," Belov said of the organization he leads. "We need to address social issues that the people will understand."

Improving the image of nationalist groups will require banning the most radical activists from participating in demonstrations organized by the coalition, Belov said.

"Those who shout 'Heil Hitler' must be gradually isolated," Belov said.

Together with Belov and Savelyev, Russian Public Movement leader Konstantin Krylov and Alexei Navalny, a leader of the movement The People, signed an agreement to cooperate during elections and while organizing demonstrations.

In their joint political declaration, they promised to lobby for the "elimination of social inequality, and economic and technological modernization," as well as for a crackdown on immigration and crime.

They said they were ready to support President Dmitry Medvedev on the condition that he restore political competition and eliminate bureaucracy and corruption among the ruling elite.

Former Kremlin spin doctor and political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky said a "combination of nationalist, liberal and socialist ideas" was the right way to win over the voters' hearts.

Belkovsky said it was "realistic" for the coalition to win seats in the 2011 Duma "because of the rising demand for nationalism and introduction of new young faces."

Activists from the pro-Kremlin youth group Young Russia disrupted Sunday's congress by throwing dildos at Belov while he addressed participants.

The activists were removed from the premises by hotel security guards.