The Russian government’s official fears that some members of the Trump-inspired “Make America Great Again” movement might become “political prisoners” in Biden’s America presents a spectacular soft power chance for the Kremlin to appeal to a broad swath of conservatives if it facilitates their future emigration to Russia and subsequently provides the necessary support to aid their assimilation and integration into society.
Speaker of the Russian State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin dropped a bombshell last week when he declared during the opening of the lower house of parliament’s spring session that some members of the Trump-inspired “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) movement might become “political prisoners” in Biden’s America. His exact words were as follows: “Those who participated in unauthorized political actions everywhere were anointed by Washington as fighters for freedom and democracy. When the same thing happened in the United States itself, they labelled these people as domestic terrorists who face 15-20 years in prison. These will be real political prisoners. Let’s call a spade a spade.” While there’s no doubt that those who stormed the US Capitol deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, the fact of the matter is that the double standards vis-a-vis Washington’s stance towards analogous groups that it backs abroad and even towards the arguably just as seditious Antifa and “Black Lives Matter” prove that those MAGA members are indeed “political prisoners”.
He clarified, however, that “Washington will have to admit that either this is a policy of double standards or they have people who have suffered for their political views.” In a sense, then, one can say that Volodin is playing politics to an extent for soft power purposes. Nevertheless, his powerful points are extremely valid and should be deeply contemplated by all. It’s extremely unlike that the US will formally acknowledge its double standards, hence why it’s legitimate for foreign officials such as himself to recognize those imprisoned MAGA members as “political prisoners”. It’s not just those folks who stormed the capital that are at risk of becoming political prisoners, however, as the vast majority of moderate MAGA members fear that they’ll face the same future in the “dystopian hellhole” that awaits them in Biden’s America. This isn’t mere conjecture either since Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova revealed last week that her social media accounts have been swamped by Americans requesting Russian citizenship to escape political persecution at home.
The cumulative effect of these two official statements — the first by Duma Speaker Volodin describing imprisoned MAGA members as “political prisoners” and the second by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova revealing some Americans’ interest in emigrating to Russia — presents a spectacular soft power chance for the Kremlin to appeal to conservatives. Moscow would do well to facilitate the future emigration of conservative Americans to Russia in order to boost its own international ideological standing as a bastion of freedom in an increasingly totalitarian world, as well as to satisfy its own domestic demographic interests to increase its population through the recruitment of highly skilled foreign workers. Generalizations can sometimes be inaccurate, but for the most part, it can be safely assumed that those Non-Russian Pro-Russian (NRPR) MAGA members who are passionate enough to reach out to Zakharova are probably more educated or at least better informed of international events than most other Americans are.
These are precisely the types of folks that Russia wants to emigrate there, so it’s in the state’s interests to do its utmost to facilitate this mutually beneficial outcome. Those peaceful and law-abiding MAGA members who fear political persecution in Biden’s America can relocate to Russia to start their lives anew, but they must have full state support to this end. For that reason, the Kremlin should consolidate its disparate migration and soft power efforts into a unified structure for encouraging the emigration of NRPRs, not just from America, but from all across the world. It would be helpful if this included visa support; online Russian language, history, and culture classes in advance; connection with others who made this journey before them (whether their fellow compatriots or whoever else); job training and placement; in-country educational opportunities; and other necessary social services. So long as the political will is present, potentially countless Americans can escape what they sincerely fear is their looming political persecution under Biden and start their lives anew in Russia.