Russian Nationalist Rock or Back Into the Underground

Mark Yoffe, George Washington University

Ever since the collapse of Soviet Union Russian youth counterculture has (as its counterparts all over the Eastern Europe) found itself in a very difficult situation. The particular complexity of this situation stemmed from variety of reasons, but one of the most important was of course: loss of its countercultural identity.

Former leaders of cultural opposition, the creative and youthful “conscience” of the country has found itself with its revolutionary status shaken. The counterculture has found itself facing the creation of that very free society for which it was feerlessly struggling through years of oppression.

Trained in subterranean existence, having mastered the technics of cultural and political resistance, members of counterculture needed now to re-assess their place and role in the new society. The question many members of the counterculture were facing now was: what defines counterculture in free (or freer) society, is there a place for the counterculture in it? If there was a place for counterculture under democracy than where was it and with whom? Who are counterculture’s new friends and adversaries?

I will examine these questions particularly using example of today’s Russian rock’n’roll community. I will particularly closely look at the fact that rock’n’rollers developed a strong antagonism to present form of capitalism in Russia and a strong anti-Western and pro-nationalist sentiment. It was Russian punk-rock community that gave nationalist Vladimir Žirinovskij its strong support and endorsement. I will touch upon aesthetics of Russian nationalist rock and also upon national peculiarities of Russian rock as such.

In my paper I will attempt to cast some light on these developments and to answer the questions I have asked in the beginning of this proposal.