A Word to the People 1991 (Alexander Prokhanov et. al)

The idea of fostering unity of the supranational Russian Federation seems to be a consistent and conscious goal of modern Russian ideologists who are actively pursuing the adoption of a new national ideology [1 , 2]. Part of this conscious focus on unity may be due to an awareness that the Soviet Union disintegrated on ethnic-national boundaries in part because of its inability to establish a unifying ideology which appealed to the different ethnicities, cultures, and religions which the ‘evil empire’ was comprised of [3, 4].

Even as Russian ideologists actively work to promote a unifying “ideology of victory” in the new war [5], there are increasing observations in the West that the Russian Federation may be teetering on collapse and likely to further disintegrate along similar lines to those of 1991 [6].

Once again, as a key piece of Russian literature remains elusive to find in English, I will post below a translation of the July 1991 essay “A Word to the People”. This essay appeared in the hard-line Sovetskaya Rossiya journal and served as the ideological foundations for the August 1991 coup attempt. The text is widely attributed to the authorship of signatory Alexander Prokhanov, who continues to contribute to modern ideological projects of the Izborsky Club (such as the ideology of victory).

I feel this article is useful for framing how Russian ideologists were conscious of the impending collapse of the USSR, the awareness of the importance for national unity, and ultimately how this argument has somewhat come to represent not just the position of the August 1991 coup plotters – but also seemingly of the ideological elite in Putin’s Russia in 2022.

Ultimately the focus on unity of the disintegrating supranational empire as elaborated below is also a useful concept for understanding the ecumenical appeal of “desatanization” as an intentional ideological process within modern Russia.

A Word to the People
July 23, 1991

Dear Russians! Citizens of the USSR! Compatriots!

There was a huge unforeseen grief. Our homeland, our country, the great state, given to us for preservation by history, nature, and glorious ancestors, perishes, breaks, and plunges into darkness and non-existence. And this death occurs with our silence, connivance and consent.

Have our hearts and souls turned to stone and none of us has the power, courage, love for the Fatherland that moved our grandfathers and fathers, who laid down their lives for the Motherland on the battlefields and in gloomy dungeons, in great labors and struggles, composed of prayers , hardships and revelations to the state, for whom the Motherland and the state were the highest shrines of life? What happened to us brothers?

Why do cunning and eloquent rulers, clever and cunning apostates, greedy and rich money-grubbers, mocking us, mocking our beliefs, taking advantage of our naivety, seize power, pilfer riches, take away people’s houses, factories and lands, slaughter divide the country into parts, quarrel and fool us, excommunicate us from the past, remove us from the future – doom us to a miserable existence in slavery and subordination to all-powerful neighbors?

How did it happen that at our deafening rallies, in our irritation and impatience, longing for change, desiring prosperity for the country, allowed into power those who did not love this country, who were servile before overseas patrons, out there beyond the sea, seeking advice and blessings?

Brothers, we wake up late, we notice trouble late, when our house is already burning from four corners, when we have to extinguish it not with water, but with our own tears and blood. Can we really allow civil strife and war for the second time in this century, to again throw ourselves into the cruel millstones, which we have not launched, where the bones of the people will grind, and the backbone of Russia will break?

We address you with the words of utmost responsibility, we appeal to representatives of all professions and classes, all ideologies and beliefs, all parties and movements, for whom our differences are nothing before the common misfortune and pain, before the common love for the Motherland, which we see as one, indivisible, which rallied the fraternal peoples into a powerful state, without which we cannot exist under the sun.

Wake up, come to our senses, stand up both old and young for the country.

Let’s say “No!” destroyers and invaders. Let us put a limit on our retreat at the last line of resistance.

We are starting a nationwide movement, calling into our ranks those who have recognized the terrible misfortune that has befallen the country.

We call on the working people, to whom today’s Pharisees promised abundance and earnings, and now they are expelled from factories and mines, doomed to starvation, lack of rights, to dull standing in lines for benefits, a loaf of bread, for alms from the rich and owners.

We call on hard-working peasants, exhausted by ignorant authorities, whose current destinies are decided by yesterday’s destroyers of villages and creators of utopian programs, imposing a enslaving exchange on the grain grower, dooming the arable land to desolation, to the extermination of the surviving farms that feed the country.

We appeal to the engineers, whose hands, mind and talent created a unique technical civilization, a powerful industry that ensured the well-being and protection of the people, which allowed the Motherland to fly into space. Equipment, which, tired of working, needed modernization and renewal, after six years of idleness and ranting, stopped and collapsed, and now we are a country of stopped enterprises, silenced energy, disappeared goods, confused and impoverished engineers excommunicated from creativity.

We appeal to scientists who worthily promoted the development of domestic science, amazed the world with the fruits of their labors, accumulated  discoveries in laboratories and institutes for the next breakthrough into the twenty-first century, where we hoped for a worthy place in human civilization.

Instead, demagogues and malefactors ruin precious accumulations, scatter teams of researchers, close scientific areas, drive blood clots into the development of space research, nuclear technology, and the latest chemistry, dooming the best minds to vegetate, to flee from their native lands to prosperous countries. where their talent will feed not their own, but someone else’s development.

We direct our voice to the Army, having won our respect for humanity for the selfless feat of saving Europe from the Nazi plague, for the Army, which inherited the best qualities of the Russian, Soviet army and opposes aggressive forces. Our glorious defenders are going through difficult times. It is not the fault of the Army that it is forced to hastily leave foreign garrisons, to be the object of shameless political speculations, to be subjected to constant attacks of lies and slander by irresponsible politicians. But no one will be able to turn the Armed Forces into an amorphous mass, disintegrated from within, betrayed to desecration. We are convinced that the soldiers of the Army and Navy, true to their sacred duty, will not allow a fratricidal war, the destruction of the Fatherland, and will act as a reliable guarantor of security and a bulwark of all the healthy forces of society.

We direct our voice to the artists and writers who, bit by bit, created a culture on the ruins of the destroyed classics, who obtained images of beauty and  goodness for the people, who expected the flourishing of the arts in the future, and who found themselves in poverty, reducing creativity to a miserable farce for the amusement of merchants and the rich, when a people, excommunicated from the spirit, deprived of an ideal, ruled by immoral swindlers, is led out of history, turned into cheap labor power for foreign manufacturers.

We turn to the Orthodox Church, which has gone through Calvary, slowly, after all the beatings, rising from the Tomb. She, whose spiritual light shone in Russian history even in times of darkness; today, not yet strong, is tormented by strife, infringed upon in dioceses and parishes, and does not find worthy support in a strong sovereign power. Let her hear the voice of the people calling for salvation.

We appeal to Muslims, Buddhists, Protestants, believers of all denominations, for whom faith is synonymous with goodness, beauty and truth; cruelty, ugliness and lies are attacking them today, destroying their living soul.

We appeal to parties, large and small, to liberals and monarchists, to centralists and zemstvos, to singers of the national idea. We turn to the Communist Party, which bears full responsibility not only for the victories and failures of the previous seventy years, but also for the last six tragic ones, in which the Communist Party first led the country, and then renounced power, giving this  power to frivolous and inept parliamentarians who quarreled between each other, who produced thousands of stillborn laws, of which only those that give the people into bondage, and divides the exhausted yet alive body of the country into parts. The Communists, whose party is being destroyed by their own leaders, having  abandoned their party cards, rush one after another to the camp of the enemy – betray, betray, demand the gallows for their recent comrades – let the Communists hear our call!

The youth, our hope and flower, which is being smoldered, given over to the service of false idols, is doomed to idleness, mediocrity, drugs and crime.

The old people, our wisdom and pride, our unfailing workers and our tireless breadwinners, who received begging and desecration, defilement by a print and television brew of those who seek to kill the memory, in opposition to generations.

Young veterans, internationalist warriors, who showed dedication and humanism, high moral qualities, but placed in a position without guilt of the guilty.

Women who deny themselves the highest natural right to prolong their offspring for fear of breeding poverty, replenishing the army of the civil war with soldiers, afraid of their love and their motherhood …

Everyone who is, in cities and villages, in steppes and forests, at the edge of the great oceans washing the country – let’s wake up, stand up for unity and repulse the destroyers of the Motherland! …

Yuri Bondarev,
Valentin Varennikov,
Boris Gromov,
Ludmila Zykina,
Alexander Prokhanov,
Vasily Starodubtsev,
Yuri Blokhin,
Edward Volodin,
Gennady Zyuganov,
Vyacheslav Klykov,
Valentin Rasputin,
Alexander Tizyakov

“Soviet Russia”, 07/23/91



[1] Marlene Laruelle, “What is the Ideology of a Mobilized Russia?”, Russia Post, October 4 2022, https://russiapost.info/politics/war_ideology

[2] Juliette Faure, “The deep ideological roots of Russia’s war”, Monde Diplo, April 2022, https://mondediplo.com/2022/04/03ideology

[3] Lev Topor and Alexander Tabachnik, “Russian Cyber Information Warfare : International Distribution and Domestic Control”, Journal of Advanced Military Studies vol. 12, no. 1, Spring 2021, https://doi.org/10.21140/mcuj.2021120100

[4] Ronald Grigor Suny, 1993, “The revenge of the past : nationalism, revolution, and the collapse of the Soviet Union”,   Stanford University Press, https://archive.org/details/revengeofpastnat0000suny/mode/2up 

[5] Michael Hotchkiss, “Ideology of Victory and the Death of Daria Dugina”, n01r.com, September 11 2022, https://n01r.com/ideology-of-victory-and-the-death-of-daria-dugina/ 

[6] Luke Coffey, “Preparing for the Final Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Dissolution of the Russian Federation”, Hudson Institute, December 14 2022, https://www.hudson.org/foreign-policy/preparing-final-collapse-soviet-union-dissolution-russian-federation 

[7] Alexander Prokhanov, et. al,  «Слово к народу» (“A Word to the People”), Sovetskaya Rossiya, July 23 1991, (Translation made from reprint: https://kprf.ru/media/filestorage/library/c65ca2_pravdamos_27_261_6.pdf )