Some 400 people packed the conference hall in Skopje’s Hotel Continental on Saturday, many of whom were left standing.
Kremlin ‘Guru’ Rouses Anti-Western Feeling in Macedonia~ Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin thrilled an audience in Skopje with his message that Western liberalism has failed – and that Macedonians should put their faith in Slavic brotherhood.
There were there to see the guest star of the panel, the Russian analyst, strategist and philosopher Alexander Dugin, a Russian philosopher who has been referred to as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “favourite philosopher” .
Dugin, joined by another prominent Russian analyst, Leonid Savin, were guests on the panel organised by a small pro-Russian party, United Macedonia – which chose this name in apparent deference to Putin’s own party, United Russia.
Although the Russian guests are not listed among Putin’s official advisors, many see Dugin as the chief “ideologist” or “brains” of the Kremlin.
Either way, Dugin strongly opposes Western liberal values and champions an alternative Pan-Slavic brotherhood, which includes strengthening the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.
He himself said he was in Macedonia in an unofficial capacity, as Russia’s “people’s diplomat”.
West should stop exporting ‘failed’ ideology
Dugin told the meeting that the “West” is failing, alongside the European Union, noting Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the rise of “euro-skepticism in Poland, Greece, Italy and Hungary. Turkey has already discarded the idea of EU membership”, he said.
“When they tell you that there is no alternative to EU and NATO, that represents blackmail, humiliation and colonisation,” he added, urging the West to mind its own business instead of spreading its “failed ideology”.
The audience listened intently, breaking off to cheer “Russia, Russia” and applaud during each brief intermission.
“The liberal ideology is totalitarian. It wants to destroy traditions. Many nations discard it in order to protect their culture, language and religion. We are glad that Russia became a symbol of this process,” Dugin continued.
“We say to you that you have an alternative and that each nation should choose for itself. No matter your decision, you will remain our friends and brothers” but, “you should make that decision freely”.
The loud cheers at each mention of Russia and of Putin continued during the speech of the other Russian guest, Savin.
He insisted that the Eurasian Economic Union was a democratic force, unlike the EU.
“The creation of the EU was based on an ideology of fear. It was created so that certain Western countries would stop warring among each other,” Savin said, adding that “Brussels is Washington’s satellite.”
On the other hand, he said, with the Eurasian Economic Union, “you have integration based on respect, no matter if the country has 2 million or 200 million people”.
Savin called the Eurasian Union “a synthesis of different sovereignties” based on consensual decision making.
“If one member-country does not accept something, that thing is not implemented. That is a real democracy,” he said.
He argued that if Macedonia chose to join the Russian-led club, its identity and traditions would be preserved, which might well not be the case if - as he said - it joins NATO and the EU.
This was referring European and American pressure on Macedonia to resolve the long-standing dispute over its name with Greece if it wishes to advance its Euro-Atlantic perspectives.
This may also result in Macedonia having to alter or modify its name.
EU and NATO likened to ‘Fourth Reich’
One of the hosts of the panel, the vice president of the non-parliamentary United Macedonia party, Stefan Vlahov Micov, was less restrained than his Russian guests when speaking about the West.
He called the United States, NATO and the EU “the fourth Fascist Reich”, theorising that America wants war with “the free world” – defined as Russia, China, Iran and other countries – and the annihilation of Serbia and Macedonia.
“The US is determined to go to war with Russia until the last European [standing] and with China until the last Asian [standing].” he said.
He called on Macedonia to free itself from “Anglo-Saxon clutches” and join a Pan-Slavic union where it “naturally belongs.”
Some in the audience tried to flatter the Russian guests by speaking Russian or by handing over paintings and Orthodox Christian icons.
Many of them asked Russia to help Macedonia resist pressure to change its name, should the current centre-left government under Zoran Zaev strike a deal with Greece.
But Dugin warned that Russia could only help countries that seek its aid.
“In order to help someone, he should ask for help,” Dugin said, insisting that Moscow does not interfere before it receives an official request from another country.
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad “came to Russia and asked for help and Russia settled the situation is Syria by sending our heroes to fight and die for the brotherly Syrian people,” he elaborated, by way of example.
Although despising Western liberalism, Dugin insisted that the best way to beat it involve using some of its own preferred methods, such as street agitation and social media campaigns.
“When [US billionaire philanthropist George] Soros doesn’t like certain government, he brings people onto the streets. We should use the same methods – social networks are a good playing field and so are protests,” he told the audience.
Friends with Serbian Monarchists
Media BIRN asked Dugin about his cooperation with the Serbian pro-monarchist group The Order of the Dragon.
Asked whether he supports this group’s delivery of equipment to Kosovo Serbs in preparation for supposed imminent ethnic cleansing and whether he, as the Order previously told BIRN, would act as a hotline to the Kremlin for Kosovo Serbs, Dugin avoided giving straight answer.
"I know that movement among many others and I have many friends among them," Dugin said, adding that he considers all Serbs, and hopefully soon all Macedonians, his friends.
“The right for self-protection is the right for all people ... Every nation is somewhere in majority and somewhere in minority. In some places the Serbs are minority, in others, the Albanians are [minority]. Of course, anyone who feels endangered should try to protect their culture and tradition”, Dugin said.
In his speech in Skopje, answering to questions from the audience he added that he can “only transmit messages from another brotherly people to the Russian people.”
He insisted that Russia is not conducting aggressive policies but only helping states whose politicians ask for help.