ALEXANDR DUGIN AND THE SECURITY SERVICES
Gianluca Savoini, a close aide and a former spokesperson for Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, reportedly participated in secret negotiations for Russian funding of Italy’s Lega Nord far-right party. An important part in these negotiations belongs to a Russian far-right ideologue Aleksandr Dugin whom Savoini met in Rome and in Moscow. Dugin’s lifelong ties with the military, government and the Russian security services deserve special attention.
Dugin’s father, Geli Alexandrovich Dugin (1935–1998), was a Lieutenant General of the GRU, the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR, the largest foreign intelligence agency. He left the family when his son was three but used his high-rank position to get his son out of trouble.[i]
In December 1983, Alexandr Dugin was arrested by the KGB after performing an Anti-Soviet song at a concert in Moscow, collaborated by providing information and was released. As a punishment, his father was then transferred from GRU to customs control.[ii]
In 1989–1992, Dugin went on several trips to Europe.[iv] Trips abroad for citizens with the KGB arrest records were not granted unless they served as informants or recruiters. His explanation of funding the trips by the revenues from the sales of 100,000 copies of his two books published in 1989[v] does not stand scrutiny as Russia experienced a major economic crisis in 1991 and the revenues would not be sufficient. In 1991–1992, Dugin invited the leaders of ultra-nationalist movements[vi] he met during these trips to visit Moscow on paid trips. He attempted to form an alliance between them and the staff of Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, the premier officer-training establishment for the Soviet (now Russian) army, where, by 1992, he became an adjunct professor and a guest lecturer.[vii]
In December 1990, Dugin joined the editorial board of an ultra-nationalist weekly Den’ (later Zavtra), funded by the Ministry of Defense. Den’ played an active role in preparing and supporting the August 1991 coup, when a small group of the KGB generals and top military personnel called siloviki made an attempt to restore the USSR. Dugin, self-admittedly,[viii] sided with the coup leaders. It was Den’s founder and editor Aleksandr Prokhanov, a writer with known ties to Communist Party and the military, who helped Dugin to obtain the position at the Academy of the General Staff through General Igor Rodionov, the commander of the General Staff Academy. In 1996, Rodionov was appointed the Russian Defense Minister and at the same period, Dugin worked for the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense’s magazine Orientiry (Landmarks.)
In 1997, Dugin wrote his major book Foundations of Geopolitics. General Nikolai Klokotov of the General Staff Academy, served as an official consultant, and Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, head of the International Department of the Russian Ministry of Defense, also may have served as an adviser. The book is currently used as a textbook in the Russian state military schools.
In the 1990s, Dugin prepared information for the Administration of President while working for the analytical department of Russian Gold. The founder and president of Russian Gold, Alexander Tarantsev, linked with organized crime and accused of contract killings, tax evasion and smuggling, financed a new edition of Foundations of Geopolitics in 1999. In 1998–1999, Dugin still taught at the Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Army and was also an advisor on geopolitics to Gennady Seleznev, a major player in Russian politics and a State Duma Speaker.
On March 28, 2000, a day after Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer and the head of FSB, won the presidential elections of the Russian Federation, Dugin published an article The Dawn in Boots (referring to the iconic boots worn by Cheka, the early Bolshevik secret services), calling the KGB the future “backbone of the Eurasian Renaissance” and the “Ruler.” In autumn 2000, Dugin was introduced to Putin.[ix]
In 2001, Dugin co-founded and chaired a political party Evrazia with a KGB veteran Petr Suslov, who served in a unit which conducted special operations abroad. Financial and logistics support for Evrazia was provided through regional organizations of the KGB/GRU veterans. Suslov is reported to have broad connections within the leadership of the FSB, the Presidential Administration.[x] Artyom Kruglov, the editor of the Putinism site said in an interview that Alexander Litvinenko mentioned Suslov as one of the coordinators of assassinations in the 90s.
Evrazia was supported by a part of the staff of the Presidential Administration. Dugin organized a nationalistic forum on the premises of the KGB veterans club; the board included Vladislav Revsky, the chairman of the club and an ex-KGB officer with 10 years of experience in Vympel, a special operations unit attached to the First Chief Directorate of the KGB.
By 2003, Dugin’s party branched out to form International Evrasia Movement, registered by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation at an official ceremony. Its first convention took place at the President-Hotel in Moscow, with security provided by Federal Security service reporting directly to Putin. According to an investigative journalist Marina Latysheva, the main function of Evrazia was the preparation of analytical reports on foreign policy for the Administration of the President.
In 2003–2004, Dugin became the Chairman of the Council of the International Evrasian Movement (IEM), presiding over several high level government officials, such as Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation; the Head of the Department of Political Parties and Social Movements of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation; Minister of Culture of Russia; members of the Federation Council, Chairman of the International Committee of the Council of the Federation, and Alexander Torshin, Vice Speaker of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, as per the former and current Evrasian Movement websites.
Dugin also served as the chairman of the International Evrasian Movement executive committee. A Vice-chairman, Mikhail Gagloev, the owner/shareholder of Tempbank, had reported connections to the secret services and was later sanctioned by the US for its role in the annexation of Crimea in 2014. The bank was closed in 2017 due to bankruptcy. At the time of revocation of the license, the supervisory board included Andrei Dubinyak , a former deputy chairman of the board of Bank of Support of the Armed Forces and Defense Industry; Leonid Reshetnikov, Lieutenant-General, former head of the Information and Analytical Department of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Russia, currently a member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Defense headed by Sergei Shoigu and Alexander Babakov, State Duma Deputy. Mikhail Leontyev, an associate of Dugin, and a spokesman and VP for Russian state oil company, Rosneft, was a founding member. Leonytev was picked for his Rosneft position by its CEO Igor Sechin, one of Putin’s closest ally, a long-time friend and the KGB colleague from Leningrad and reportedly the most powerful person in the Kremlin after Putin. Dugin allegedly has ties with Sechin and, in 2014, wrote that “Sechin, Sergey Ivanov, the Minister of Defense, the army and GRU” were ready to accept his Eurasian theory.
The movement was also supported by several leading Russian Orthodox Church priests, including father Vsevolod Chaplin, the right hand of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, allegedly a former KGB officer, and Nikolai Patrushev, a former KGB officer from Leningrad who served as Director of the FSB (Federal Security Service, the main successor organization to the Soviet KGB) from 1999 to 2008, and a Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, a consultative body of the President that works out his decisions on national security affairs, since 2008.
In 2003, Dugin co-featured on the government-funded main TV Channel One with Marat Gelman, the Channel’s Deputy General Manager, responsible for implementing the Kremlin’s views and close to Vladislav Surkov, Deputy Prime Minister, who also worked with Dugin on several Kremlin-backed political initiatives. Dugin was also on the channel’s managing committee.
In 2004, Dugin attended a forum on the Greek island of Rhodes organized by the Center of National Glory, a group which board of trustees included the highest rank state officials close to Putin, such as Sergei Ivanov, the Minister of Defense and a former KGB officer, Viktor Cherkesov, head of the State Drug Control Agency and Georgy Poltavchenko, the president’s plenipotentiaries in the North-Western and Central federal districts; Vladimir Kozhin, the President’s Administration Manager; and Vladimir Yakunin, the first Vice-President of Russian Railways at the time, and also a former KGB general, sanctioned by the U.S. government for his role as Putin’s confidant. Yakunin is the head of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC-RI) established in Berlin in 2016 and named the “instrument of Moscow’s hybrid warfare” against the West. Yakunin is also a former boss of the husband of Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer implicated in the Trump tower scandal and indicted by the Special Council Mueller’s probe. He is an editor and publisher of two anthologies by Dugin published by his think tank. In his book Russian School of Geopolitics, Yakunin quoted Dugin eight times.
This timeline has focused on the main career highlights of Alexandr Dugin and incomplete as it is, it appears to explain his involvement with the European far-right better than his books.
[i] Charles Clover. Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism. (Yale University Press, 2016, p.156.
[ii] Charles Clover, Ibid., p. 161.
[iii] Charles Clover, Ibid., p.163.
[iv] Anton Shekhovtsov. Alexander Dugin and the West European New right, 1989–1994. Eurasianism and the European Far Right, edited by Marlene Laruelle, Lexington Books, London, 2015.
[v] Charles Clover, Ibid., p.174.
[vi] Andreas Umland. Aleksandr Dugin’s transformation from a lunatic fringe figure into a mainstream political publicist, 1980–1998: A case study in the rise of late and post-Soviet Russian fascism in Eurasian Studies. Journal of Eurasian Studies
Volume 1, Issue 2, July 2010, Pages 144–152., at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1879366510000242
[vii] Charles Clover, Ibid., p 201.
[viii] Тайное станет явным. Дугин и Курехин. 1995 год. Телеэфир перед выборами депутатов в Гос. Думу. The Secret Will Be Revealed. Dugin and Kurekhin. 1995. On air before the elections to the State Duma. At https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqGjyMGhdqU
[ix] Clover, Ibid., p. 255.
[x] Dunlop, John B., Aleksandr Dugin’s Foundations of Geopolitics, Stanford, The Europe Center. At