Continuing along yesterday’s theme about lawyers, but this time a Russian lawyer, Mark Feygin. (I’ll go ahead and use the spelling they use in wiki.) Feygin is the defense attorney who defends Russian dissidents such as Pussy Riot, and also recently lost the Savchenko trial. As far as I am aware, his record for losing cases, remains unblemished. But that might just be because he is attracted to hopeless causes.
Speaking of which, there is something in Feygin’s past which is not exactly a secret. But I, for one, did not know about it until I saw this expose yesterday, in PolitNavigator.
“Scandalous anti-Sovietchik and Vlasovite”
is how the piece refers to the political leanings of a young Mr. Feygin. Maybe my thinking is a tad linear, I would have expected such a man to fight on the side of the NATO rebels in Yugoslavia. But no… Reality is apparently more complicated than I think: Feygin fought on the side of Serbian nationalists. He fought under the command of General Ratko Mladić.
This era in Feygin’s past life was pointed out by a well-known Russian historian and archivist named Alexander Diukov, who posted this expose on his Facebook. Diukov, in turn, was quoting from this lenta.ru piece from around Pussy times. Here is my translation of the paragraph cited by Diukov:
Together with his comrades in the NTS Feygin set off to Bosnia to fight for the Serbs. About which, to this day he is reluctant to speak. Last year Feygin admitted, that he fought under the leadership of the recently arrested General Ratko Mladić; and he posted photographs of his military ID (tags). “During the war itself I did not particularly distinguish myself, I was a rank-and-file soldier, and just carried out orders, like the others. I naturally believed that Serbs had the right to their own state in Bosnia, but I was there mainly for the company, since I could not abandon my friends,” Feygin admits modestly. The Pussy Riot lawyer served as a sniper in Bosnia. To the question, whether he killed anyone, he responds evasively. “It’s best if we don’t talk about that. But remember that this was a real war, I tossed grenades, we had rocket launchers, rifles. It’s like, you can’t just scare the enemy by making faces at him. Our positions were only 100 meters apart,” Feygin adds reluctantly. In his words, because he is an attorney, it is not appropriate for him to discuss his service in the army of the Serbian Republic.
What is NTS?
The political party that was referred to, to which Mr. Feygin belonged in the early 1990’s, and even led their Samara branch, was the NTS (Народно-Трудовой Союз российских солидаристов – National Alliance of Russian Solidarists). I never heard of these guys but, amazingly, wiki says they have been around since the 1930’s. Quoting wiki:
(НТС) is a Russian anticommunist organization founded in 1930 by a group of young Russian anticommunist White emigres in Belgrade, Serbia (then part of Kingdom of Yugoslavia).
The organization was formed in response to the older generation of Russian emigres (veterans of the White movement) who were perceived as being stagnant and resigned to their loss in the Russian Civil War. The youth which formed NTS decided to take an active role in fighting communism by studying the newly emerging Soviet culture, the psyche of a person living in the Soviet Union, and developing a political program based on the concept of solidarism.
Okay, so what is this ideology called “Solidarism” ? Funny you should ask:
The solidarist ideology of NTS was built on the Christian understanding of people’s collective social responsibility for each other’s welfare, and the voluntary cooperation between the different layers (as opposed to classes) of society, in opposition to the Marxist concept of the class struggle. It also believed strongly in the “sanctity of the individual”, in contrast to Marxist collectivism.
Christian? That’s funny too, because I always assumed that Feygin is Jewish. Maybe just based on his name.
Just goes to show, one should never ASSUME.
In any case, the PolitNavigator piece goes on to point out a copacetic relationship between Feygin’s Serbian exploits and his client Savchenko’s experiences. The supposed similarity is that both are fighting for nationalist causes, within the ranks of irregular militias.
Well, maybe. And I couldn’t help but notice, that the NTS pin uses the “trident” symbology so beloved by Ukrainian nationalists. However, the differences are also pretty stark: Ukrainian nationalists are pro-NATO. Serbian nationalists, not so much. But even that is not the main point. For me, the problem with any nationalist ideology, is that it is always specific to the “nation” in question. Being a Ukrainian nationalist is a very different animal from being a Serbian nationalist. Or a Russian nationalist, for that matter. All Nationalisms have certain ideological points in common – like a hatred of communism, for example. And Nationalisms can form temporary alliances with each other, but never permanent bonds, since they each believe that their own blood is more sacred than the other guy’s. Which is why the concept of a “Nationalist Internationale” in a logical paradox.