Viktor Alksnis, one of the Russian parliament’s most strident ultra-nationalists, harshly assailed the Union of Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers last week for its recent offer to help promote peace negotiations in Chechnya. Alksnis, a member of the pro-Kremlin Rodina (Motherland) party, called on the federal procuracy to investigate that human-rights movement’s sources of funding. The clear implication was that the soldiers’ mothers are in league with western forces deliberately seeking to destroy the Russian military.
An analysis published by the Gazeta.ru website on October 20 noted that until recently such an outburst from the openly pro-Soviet Alksnis would have been considered just another example of his extremism. “But now it turns out to be in the Kremlin mainstream…The first doubts about the usefulness to Russia of civic organizations financed from abroad were expressed by Putin himself.” The article called the committees of soldiers’ mothers “probably the most popular nationwide social organization, and almost the only fragment of civic society in Russia which is still intact and still functioning.” But such organizations are not welcome to the “conspiratorial” mentality of today’s Kremlin, which proceeds from the assumption “that everything not controlled by us is probably controlled by our enemies or soon will be.”