Investigating Aleksandr Dugin and the “soul of Russia”,

Aleksandr Dugin, the ultra-nationalist Russian philosopher and erstwhile organiser of the National Bolshevik Party, has been referred to as ‘Putin’s brain’. Professor Marlene Laruelle, the world’s leading expert on Dugin, says his influence is no longer direct. Dugin’s stated mission is to preserve the “Russian soul” and expand the Eurasian empire in defiance of the West. Today, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increasingly isolated global position feels like some of these visions have become a dark reality.

Freddie Sayers sat down with Laruelle to seek a deeper understanding of the oft-quoted concept of the “Russian soul”, what Dugin wants and how Putin might be able to help him get it.

Given the images coming out of Mariupol and Kharkiv, Dugin’s philosophy of violence now makes for disturbing reading. He has long agitated on behalf of the separatist regions in Donetsk and Lugansk, where Putin first sent troops as a preamble to full-scale invasion in Ukraine. His only complaint about today’s events, Laruelle predicts, would be that the Kremlin took so long to act.

Meanwhile, formal sanctions on Russian finance and exports are pushing the country towards economic isolation, also as per Dugin’s grand plan. But informal cultural sanctions are where Laruelle sees the greatest threat. As well as the mass exodus of Western brands from Russia, the country’s oldest exports, literature, music and ballet, are being unceremoniously banned abroad. The Cardiff Philharmonic has pulled Tchaikovsky from their programme. The Royal Opera House has cancelled a show by Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet. Frankfurt Book Fair has suspended the stand for Russian novels. If this is not a proxy war against the Russian soul, Laruelle asks, then what is? Läs intervjun