Russian National Unity

The all-Russian public patriotic movement Russian National Unity (RNE) or Barkashovtsy, Barkashov Guards is a Russian far-right paramilitary nationalist organisation founded on 16 October 1990 by a Alexander “Petrovich” Barkashov. A distinctive feature of RNE is the black paramilitary uniform (black shirts) and the Nazi hand salute. The group was banned in Moscow in 1999 after which the RNE gradually split up in smaller groups and their webpage became defunct in 2006. RNE’s activities are frozen at the moment.

The RNE rose to prominence following the events of October 1993, during which more than a hundred black-shirted militants defended the White House with guns in their hands. In 1997 the organisation tried to obtain official registration, but the authorities refused on formal grounds. RNE has been operating without registration ever since.

By early 1998 RNE was steadily gaining strength. It had some 1,000 branches in 64 regions of Russia. The main methods of outreach were the distribution of newspapers and leaflets. In addition, the military-patriotic clubs Varyagi in Moscow and Russkie Vityazi in Stavropol Krai were set up under the auspices of RNE to attract young people

At the end of 1999 RNE attempted to take part in the parliamentary elections as part of the “Spas” bloc, but it was not allowed to take part in the elections.

On 21 September 2000, supporters for the dismissal of Alexander Barkashov held a “closed plenum” of the Central Council, and announced Barkashov’s expulsion. Another split took place, which was followed by a succession of bans on RNE in Moscow and the regions. Alexander Barkashov continued to head RNE (the All-Russian public patriotic movement Russian National Unity) without state registration, retaining the regional organisations of Moscow, Belgorod, Bryansk, Nizhny Novgorod, Kurgan and a number of others in Belarus and Russia. Regional branches in St Petersburg and Kostroma were also restored.

RNE was a member of the World Union of National Socialists.

RNE was once the most prominent and powerful neo-Nazi organisation in Russia, but its internal contradictions, power struggles and its leader’s controversial position on participation in political events led to the organisation’s de facto cease to exist.