Russia: Medvedev’s “Anti-Colonialism for Idiots”

Putin’s hatchet man cynically presents Russian imperialism as standard bearer of the Global South’s interests

By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 9 March 2023,


Since more than a century, there is a well-known saying within the workers movement that antisemitism is “socialism for idiots”. Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and chairman of the ruling “United Russia” party, has excelled oneself (once again) by publishing an article which in essence can be characterised quite rightly as “anti-colonialism for idiots”. [1]

In this article, the former President and Prime Minister of Russia calls for a global struggle “against the shameful modern practices of neo-colonialism from which many countries continue to suffer. In today’s world (…) there are still many territories lacking self-government. These are vestiges of the collapse of the colonial system during the decades of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.” He adds: “The time has come for international surgery to remove the malignant tumor of the world’s colonial past.

Medvedev cites a number of examples for such remaining remnants of colonialism. Among these are the British occupation of Argentina’s Malvinas Islands, [2] as well as of Mauritius’ Chagos Archipelago, [3] and France’s remaining colonial possessions and spheres of influence in Africa. [4]

Interestingly, we note in passing, he does not mention Israel which very existence as a settler state is based on the expulsion and colonial subjugation of the Palestinian people. [5] Hm, could this be related to the fact that Russia has cultivated good relations with the Zionist Apartheid state for a number of years?! So much for Medvedev’s selective “anti-colonialism”!

Anyway, it is obviously true that France and Britain are imperialist powers which still occupy territories of semi-colonial countries. The RCIT and all authentic socialists have always called for an end of such colonial occupation and we support all struggles which aim at defeating these imperialist powers.


Colonial history of Russian imperialism


However, Medvedev’s polemic against European imperialism is a silly attempt to gain sympathies from countries of the Global South. Who is Russia to make such criticism?! When Putin’s proconsul claims in his article that “Russia have never had colonies”, only a historical illiterate could believe him. The whole history of the Russian Empire in the 18th and 19th century is one of permanent expansion and colonialisation of other peoples! As a result, ethnic Russians constituted only a minority of the total population of the Empire (about 45-47%). Mikhail N. Pokrovsky, Russia’s greatest Marxist historian until his untimely death in 1932, noted: “Even the Muscovite State of the seventeenth century in spite of the opinion of bourgeois historians, was no longer a national state of the Great Russian tribe.[6]

Lenin rightly called Tsarist Russia a “Prison of Nations[7] and Pokrovsky pointed to the massive political and economic consequences of Russia’s colonialism for the country’s economic development: “No, the colonial policy of the ruling class of landowners (Lenin called it “military-feudal imperialism”) was one of the basic reasons why the landowners’ dictatorship itself existed in our country for such a long time. The availability of colonies, i.e., the “borderland” (the land inhabited by the “aliens”), for exploitation helped to preserve backward forms of the economy in the center.[8]

While the socialist October Revolution in 1917, led by Lenin and Trotsky, resulted in the right of national self-determination and unprecedented equality for many national minorities, this was later largely destroyed by Stalin’s bureaucratic counterrevolution. [9] After 1991, Russia lost direct control over many peoples as they created their own states. Nevertheless, Russia still possesses many colonies and Putin has tried for many years to reconquer territories which the Kremlin had lost after the collapse of the USSR.

So, who is the Putin regime to raise the banner of “anti-colonialism” as Russia waged two genocidal wars against the Chechen people (in 1994-96 and 1999-2009), [10] sent troops to Georgia (in 2008) and Syria (since 2015) [11] and deploys its notorious Wagner mercenaries in various African countries?!


An “anti-colonial” ideology hiding imperialist goals


It is a blatant cynical manoeuvre of Medvedev when he tries to manipulate countries of the Global South by such hypercritical rhetoric. “If the Soviet Union actively contributed to the death of the colonial system in the world, now we, the Russian Federation, together with other countries, can drive the last nail into the coffin of the neo-colonial aspirations of the Western world.

When the Putin regime and its ideologists raise such “anti-imperialist” ideas, it has the same value as the famous Pan-Asian concept which was advocated by Tokyo in the first half of the 20th century (“Asia for Asians”). In reality, this ideology was only a cover for the creation of Japan's Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in World War II., i.e. it was a pseudo-anti-colonialist concept which served as a cover for the expansion of Japanese imperialism by brutal occupation and super-exploitation of Asian countries.

Japan – like Russia (and China) today – viewed itself as a have-not country” since it had fewer colonial possessions compared to the Western powers. Hence, it presented its desire to become an “equal” imperialist state by combining it with the concept of “liberating” the Asian people from Western domination. A historian rightly notes: “Japan’s new order thus encompassed the two conflicting trends of anti-Westernism and anti-Anglo-Americanism. Anti-Western, Pan-Asian sentiments sat alongside a desire to work with other “have-not countries,” Germany and Italy. In joining other “have-nots,” Japan would help topple the old order and create a “fair” and “just” new order – one in which rising powers would have equal access to markets, resources, and living space. Both sentiments meant roughly the same thing to policy makers and pundits alike: the creation of a Japan-led order in East Asia.[12]

Hence, the purpose of such “anti-colonialist” propaganda is to help Moscow in its efforts to create a “multi-polar world order” as this would allow Russia – as one of several rivalling imperialist Great Powers – to expand its spheres of influence. [13] Medvedev himself admits in his article: “The new multipolar world will be much more complex than a two-dimensional, bipolar approach dictates, leave alone a unipolar dictate. We like this scenario.


The position of Marxists


Marxists have no sympathy at all for such ideology of a “multi-polar world”. As we noted in a recently published essay, “a “multi-polar world order” can not and does not mean any peaceful or progressive global system – it rather means, and can only mean, multi-imperialism, i.e. a world dominated by several rivalling Great Powers. Such a concept does not contain an inch of progressiveness! [14]

Let’s be clear: as the RCIT has elaborated in several studies, Russia is an imperialist Great Power – no better nor worse than its rivals in the West. [15] Authentic socialists oppose Moscow’s wars of aggression like they oppose all other imperialist wars. [16] In the Ukraine War we have always supported – together with our comrades in Socialist Tendency (Russia) – Ukraine’s war of national defence (including its right to get weapons). At the same time, we oppose all forms of Great Power chauvinism (e.g. sanctions, armament). We have summarised our internationalist and anti-imperialist program in the slogan: “Defend the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion! Against Russian and against NATO imperialism![17]

Medvedev’s “anti-imperialist” sermon is a brainless attempt to gain sympathies in the Global South. It is nothing but “anti-colonialism for idiots”.

[1] Dmitry Medvedev: ‘We, together with other countries, can drive the final nail into the coffin of the neo-colonial aspirations of the Western world‘, 6 March 2023,; in English: (All quotes are from this article if not indicated otherwise.)

[2] See on this e.g. chapter 12 and 13 in our book by Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital. Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, RCIT Books, Vienna 2013,

[3] See on this e.g. RCIT: Mauritius: End the US-UK Occupation of the Chagos Islands! 8 June 2018,

[4] See on this e.g. RCIT: French Imperialism Lick its Wounds. 13 French soldiers died in Mali during colonialist combat mission, 29 November 2019,; see also: Boycott Imperialist and Islamophobic France! Solidarity with the Muslim migrants! Drive out the French occupiers from Mali and other countries! 26.10.2020,

[5] See e.g. our two books by Yossi Schwartz: The Zionist Wars. History of the Zionist Movement and Imperialist Wars, 1 February 2021,; Palestine and Zionism. The History of Oppression of the Palestinian People. A Critical Account of the Myths of Zionism, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019,;

[6] M. N. Pokrovsky: “The Prison of Nations”, in: Russia in World History: Selected Essays by M. N. Pokrovsky, in: Roman Szporluk and Mary Ann Szporluk, ed. and trans., University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor 1970, p. 109

[7] V. I. Lenin: On the Question of National Policy (1914), in: LCW Vol. 20, p. 219

[8] Pokrovsky: “The Prison of Nations”, p. 115. See also Pokrovsky’s two books on Russia’s history: Geschichte Russlands von seiner Entstehung bis zur neuesten Zeit, C.L.Hirschfeld Verlag, Leipzig 1929; and: Russische Geschichte, Berlin 1930.

[9] There exists a vast literature about the nationality policy in the early Soviet Union. The two best books are by Terry Martin: The Affirmative Action Empire. Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939, Cornell University Press, Ithaca 2001, and by Jeremy  Smith: Red Nations: The Nationalities Experience in and after the USSR, Cambridge University Press, New York 2013; other informative books are by Richard Pipes: The Formation of the Soviet Union: Communism and Nationalism, 1917–1923, Revised Edition, Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1997; Hélène Carrère d'Encausse: The Great Challenge. Nationalities and the Bolshevik State, 1917–1930. Holmes and Meier, New York 1992. See also our pamphlet by Yossi Schwartz: The National Question. The Marxist Approach to the Struggle of the Oppressed People, August 2019,

[10] See e.g. RCIT: Solidarity with the Liberation Struggle of the Chechen People! Open Letter to the Oppressed Chechen People, February 2018,; Where does the RCIT Stand on Russia's Occupation of Chechnya?

[11] The RCIT has published a number of booklets, statements, and articles on the Syrian Revolution that can be accessed on a special sub-section of this website:; see e.g. RCIT: Defend the Syrian Revolution against Russian Imperialism! Stop the US, UK and French Air Strikes! Smash the Assad Dictatorship! 9.10.2015,

[12] Jeremy A. Yellen: The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. When Total Empire Met Total War, CORNELL University Press, London 2019, pp. 44-45; see also: Joyce Lebra: Japan's Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere in World War II, Selected Readings and Documents, Oxford University Press, Year: 1975, pp. 3-54

[13] On the inter-imperialist rivalry see e.g. our book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019,

[14] Michael Pröbsting: “Multi-Polar World Order” = Multi-Imperialism. A Marxist Critique of a concept advocated by Putin, Xi, Stalinism and the “Progressive International” (Lula, Sanders, Varoufakis), 24 February 2023,

[15] The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in Russia and its rise to an imperialist power. The most important ones are several pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: The Peculiar Features of Russian Imperialism. A Study of Russia’s Monopolies, Capital Export and Super-Exploitation in the Light of Marxist Theory, 10 August 2021,; by the same author: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, August 2014,; Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, 18 March 2014 (this pamphlet contains a document written in 2001 in which we established for the first time our characterisation of Russia as imperialist),; see also these essays by the same author: Russia: An Imperialist Power or a “Non-Hegemonic Empire in Gestation”? A reply to the Argentinean economist Claudio Katz, in: New Politics, 11 August 2022, at; Russian Imperialism and Its Monopolies, in: New Politics Vol. XVIII No. 4, Whole Number 72, Winter 2022,; Once Again on Russian Imperialism (Reply to Critics). A rebuttal of a theory which claims that Russia is not an imperialist state but would be rather “comparable to Brazil and Iran”, 30 March 2022, See various other RCIT documents on this issue at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website:

[16] See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Struggle of Revolutionaries in Imperialist Heartlands against Wars of their “Own” Ruling Class. Examples from the history of the RCIT and its predecessor organisation in the last four decades, 2 September 2022,

[17] We refer readers to a special page on our website where more than 160 RCIT documents on the Ukraine War and the current NATO-Russia conflict are compiled: In particular we refer to the RCIT Manifesto: Ukraine War: A Turning Point of World Historic Significance. Socialists must combine the revolutionary defense of the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion with the internationalist struggle against Russian as well as NATO and EU imperialism, 1 March 2022,; see also: Manifesto on the First Anniversary of the Ukraine War. Victory to the heroic Ukrainian people! Defeat Russian imperialism! No support whatsoever for NATO imperialism! 10 February 2023,