Russian nationalists and “patriots” – much like the “Alt Right” and Alt Lite in the United States – each have their own media ecosystems, though overlap is inevitable.
As in the United States, “patriotism” is at least an order of magnitude more prevalent than nationalism (indeed, it is one of the defining strands of Putinist ideology in general). As regards the media scene, one example of a flagship “patriotic” resource would be Komsomolskaya Pravda, with more than 50 million monthly visits (despite the name, it has nothing to do with the USSR). A few other examples would be RT Russian, LIFE News, and Argumenty i Fakty. Whereas in the United States there are several CNN’s and MSNBC’s for one FOX, in Russia the division between “patriotic” and “liberal” (Vedomosti, Gazeta.ru, etc.) is more even.
Towards the right end of the “patriotic” spectrum the two big (>10 million) strongly players would be VZ.ru (the brainchild of Konstantin Rykov, the United Russia deputy who promotes Maria Katasonova, Russia’s premier cheerleader for Trump and Le Pen) and the military-affiliated Zvezda TV channel (which for a time employed British Donbass correspondent Graham W. Phillips).
Also rather influential, with around 10 million monthly visits between them, are the blogs of Colonel Cassad (Boris Rozhin) and El Murid (Anatoly Nesmiyan). Both are one-man content factories, forged in the fires of the Donbass War, who have now shifted their attentions to the Syrian Civil War and general geopolitical and military matters. Rozhin is a Crimean Communist (and chess master); Anatoly Nesmiyan is associated with Igor Strelkov, who also has a blog, though not a very influential one. However, both Nesmiyan and Strelkov are strongly skeptical of the Putin regime, so it’s more accurate to describe them as “national patriots” than “patriots.”
In my article on Russian Nationalism 101, I described Tsargrad TV as a semi-nationalist resource, especially after its ouster of the Eurasianist Alexander Dugin and replacement by the conservative-nationalist Egor Kholmogorov. It is also perhaps Russia’s closest approximation of Breitbart, down to the oligarch funding (Mercer/Malofeev) and American conservative-style focus on religion and “culture war” issues (the most recent example being its furore over the film Matilda), and ambiguous relation with Russian nationalists (Egor Kholmogorov also used to contribute articles to Prosvirnin’s Sputnik i Pogrom, but more recently, Tsargrad included Prosvirnin in its list of the country’s top 100 Russophobes). In any case, it has been interesting to see its visitorship numbers this past year skyrocketing from around the level of Sputnik i Pogrom to 50% of the level of Zvezda/VZ, and 20% of Komsomolskaya Pravda. (That said, questions have been raised as to what extent this sharp uptick is legitimate traffic).
Sputnik i Pogrom (Egor Prosvirnin), the flagship magazine of Russian nationalism, was at 1.5 million monthly visits and on an upwards trend until the Russian censorship authority Roskomnadzor blocked it this July on trumped up reasons. The drop in readership has not been as catastrophic as might have been expected, probably because its texts are highly K-selected and its audience tend to be young, intelligent, and technically literate. It is highly oppositionist in nature, but it is read by a wide swathe of the Russian political elites regardless.
Regardless of this setback, Sputnik i Pogrom’s visits number are still comparable to those of Nikolay Starikov and Zavtra and Nikolay Starikov, the two main flagships of “Soviet nationalism” and the most hardcore/zealous strain of “patriotism“, respectively.
Nikolay Starikov is a sort of “uber-patriot” who peddles in Stalin apologetics and petrodollar conspiracy theories. He is also slavishly loyal to the Kremlin and Putin: After spending early 2014 demonizing the “Nazi junta” in the Ukraine, he made an abrupt heel turn, coming out against the recognition of the LDNR and stressing the necessity of a “united Ukraine”… so as to avoid being drawn into an evil American plot to draw Russia into WW3. This was essentially a Kremlin talking point – the decision against overt military intervention had been made early on in the conflict – but couched in a language understandable to Starikov’s rabid, foathing-at-the-mouth uber-patriotic herd. With a few exceptions, the articles there are highly r-selected.
Zavtra is the newspaper of Alexander Prokhanov, a Soviet ultranationalist who supported the hardliners during the coup attempt of 1991. However, they have not evolved since, and as a result their articles inevitably follow a set of themes: Praise for Lenin and Stalin; condemnations of Gorbachev for “betraying” the USSR; and other staples of Third Position political rhetoric, such as the petrodollar conspiracy theories. Also a liberal dose of late Putinist era multinationalism: Just checked back, and Prokhanov appears to be writing odes to the Kadyrovs nowadays. It is hard to avoid the impression that Zavtra is fading into obscurity.
However, at least some people still visit it. The same cannot be said of Alexander Dugin’s two Eurasianist sites, Katehon and Geopolitica.ru – they have no more than 500,000 combined monthly visits. As I have long pointed out, Dugin is far more popular amongst Western neoliberal Intellectuals Yet Idiots and confused US Alt Rightists than he is in Russia itself. That is because there are few Russians who have much use for Dugin’s fusion of “anti-imperialist”/”anti-racist” Soviet-Eurasianism and the more obscurantist strains of Orthodoxy liberally, speckled with conspiracy theories about the liberal “sixth column” responsible for Islamist terrorism and the Atlanticist evils of surfing (no, seriously).
Google Trends: Dugin; Limonov; Prokhanov – Russia – Last 5 years
The National Bolshevik Eduard Limonov is somewhat more prominent than Dugin, and also has gigs at more mainstream “patriotic” places like RT Russian. Although his ideas have become dated, as with Dugin and Prokhanov, he is, at least, more entertaining than either one of them, which might explain his greater prominence. This is more of a subjective observation, but I would also note that as someone who has spent some time in France and the United States, he is also more realistic about many aspects of the world relative to his Eurasianist and Soviet peers.
Sut’ Vremeni (Essence of Time) is another Soviet-nostalgic movement led by Sergey Kurginyan. It has zero intellectual content and frankly comes off like a cult, but is allowed to exist thanks to its slavish loyalty to the Kremlin.
It is important to note that just as the Right Altsphere in the United States can’t compete with the collective Vox, so Russian nationalists, Far-Rightists, and sundry “national patriots” and “national conservatives” of whatever flavor are far more marginal relative to neoliberalism.txt’s Russia branch. The two flagship Far Liberal outlets, Echo of Moscow and Meduza.io (successtor to Lenta) each have 30 million monthly visits; TVRain, whose crew is a fixture at any Navalny demonstration, has 12 million visitors; The Village, the journal of Moscow’s SWPL’s, gays, and SWPLy gays, has 8 million; the highly K-selected Republic.ru (formerly Slon) has around 3 million. The nationalist/liberal gap isn’t quite as loaded in favor of the latter as in the United States or Europe, but it is still very big.