Russian nationalist ideologue Aleksandr Dugin is banned from entering the United States for backing separatists in Ukraine. But thanks to the Internet and an American white supremacist, he’s set to beam his anti-Western views into the halls of a public university in Texas.
And Ukrainian-Americans are not happy about it.
The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America is calling on Texas A&M University to refuse to host an April 29 online lecture to be delivered remotely by Dugin to a venue on its campus in College Station, Texas.
“We condemn Dugin’s xenophobic worldview and are surprised that a U.S. university would provide a venue for his hate speech,” Andrij Dobriansky, a spokesman for the New York-based advocacy group, told RFE/RL. “We hope the university reconsiders after hearing the outcry.”
The planned lecture is titled “American Liberalism Must Be Destroyed” and is being organized by Preston Wigginton, a Texas white supremacist with ties to Russian ultranationalists.
In 2007, Wigginton attended an anti-immigrant Russian March demonstration in Moscow and received cheers from the crowd after telling them that “Slavic and European peoples” must “unite to fight this invasion of the third world.”
He was also denied entry into Britain in 2009, a decision the British government explained as an effort to “prevent those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country.”
The United States slapped sanctions on Dugin in March, citing his role as a leader of the Eurasian Youth Union, which Washington says has “actively recruited individuals with military and combat experience to fight on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.”
“This group and its leaders are being designated for being responsible for or complicit in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, or sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine,” the U.S. Treasury Department said in its statement announcing the sanctions.
In his Facebook announcement for the event, Wigginton described the Dugin as a “Kremlin insider and an informal adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
Dugin does indeed have Kremlin connections, though his actual influence on Russian government policy is unclear.
A Change.org petition has been launched asking Texas A&M’s interim president, Mark Hussey, not to host Dugin’s lecture.
Texas A&M is clearly not thrilled that its facilities will be used for the event. But university spokesman Shane Hinckley told RFE/RL that Wigginton reserved the space in compliance with the rules and that Texas A&M “supports the First Amendment rights of speakers even when their judgment and actions are morally reprehensible.”
"Neither this event nor its message are promoted or endorsed by Texas A&M University,” Hinckley said in emailed comments. “Mr. Wigginton is a private citizen who reserved space generally available to the public to host events of its own choosing.”