(NewsNation) — A shadowy figure has emerged as a possible influencer over Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Some are calling political analyst and philosopher Aleksandr Dugin “Putin’s Rasputin” or “Putin’s brain.”
Washington Post columnist David Von Drehle wrote that Dugin is a “fascist prophet,” who has intellectual influence over Putin.
Warning: Viewers may find this video disturbing
Von Drehle joined NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield to explain.
Below is a full transcript of the interview, edited for grammar and clarity
Banfield: So David, there are mixed reviews about this Alexandr Dugin, some saying that he has strong influence over Putin, others saying it waned long ago. How do you come in on this?
Von Drehle: Well, in a sense, it doesn’t really matter. The fact that whatever his current status is, he’s been very influential over the past 25 years, over both Putin, who doesn’t really have … he didn’t arrive in his office with a program or an intellectual apparatus, he needed to find one, and Dugin provided it. And he’s also been very influential over the Russian military, designing the, basically designing the curriculum for the General Staff College back at the turn of the century. So his current status doesn’t really matter, because his ideas are, you know, abroad in Russia, and highly influential over Putin’s thinking.
Banfield: So let me ask about those ideas. I got the impression that his early writings, and maybe even his later writings, indicated that there should be a European-Asian superpower, a Eurasia, and that that is the paradigm through which, you know, Vladimir Putin is sort of looking at the world. That that’s what he wants to establish.
Von Drehle: From one seed to the other, the expression in Dugin’s work is from Dublin to Vladivostok, which if your geography student takes you from west of London, to east of Tokyo, almost so he does. He believes that it’s Russia’s destiny, and the destiny of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Because this is a heavily messianic kind of philosophy, that the destiny is to rule over all of Europe and Asia, in some cases, by the kind of violence that we see in Ukraine and other cases, ruled by economic influence. As we started to see in Western Europe, where, until this happened until the invasion of Ukraine, Germany, Italy, and other European powers were becoming desperately dependent on Russian oil and natural gas. And I think Putin believed that he had enough of a lever there, that he could get away with the Ukrainian invasion. And I hope that the West will have the strength to say no,
Banfield: I want to ask you about this popularity of Alexandr Dugin among European extreme right-wing members and American extreme right-wing members.
Von Drehle: Yeah, well, he’s been a part of what they call the new right in Europe and the alt right here in the United States. He’s been involved with that going back to the 1990s. All of these folks were disturbed when freedom, human rights and liberty were on the upswing, and they wanted an answer, a right-wing fascist answer, and he helped sketch it out.