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Σάββατο, 13 Απριλίου, 2024
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionDown with the (national) patriarchy!: Meet the Male State

Down with the (national) patriarchy!: Meet the Male State

By Evi Tsakali,

On October 18th 2021, a Russian court a little east of Moscow outlawed an extremist movement; yet its leader was nowhere to be found. When his lawyer was asked about his whereabouts, he exclaimed “even I don’t know where he is!”. Indeed, Vladislav Pozdnyahov, a fitness coach in his early thirties, had already fled the country in late 2018 after receiving a suspended sentence of “inciting hatred towards women”, and -judging by his online presence- is currently residing in Podgorica, Montenegro; he is the notorious leader of the Male State.

The Male State (Muzhskoye gosudarstvo) has been operating in impunity for many years. It is not a physical organization, meaning that it has no base or official headquarters, but it constitutes more of a loose network of social media accounts, being active on Telegram, besides VK, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. Its adherents use the denomination “national patriarchy” to describe their ideology, which consists of reestablishing the status of men in society that has been gradually lost due to women taking leadership positions.

Copyright: Bellingcat. Image source: ertnews.gr

The movement became more noticed during the introduction of a law on domestic violence in Russia, while the Male State was campaigning against, to the point where they sent death threats and provoked online intimidation against activists who were lobbying in favor of the law. According to Pozdnyahov’s Telegram channel “feminists and LGBT activists are bio-garbage” and “psychologically sick people who have no place among normal people”. The group also targeted women that are in a relationship with men of color and mothers of mixed-race children.

Nevertheless, the government got to deal with the Male State’s action only when it concerned Russian companies. Specifically, the group aimed corporations that advertised mobilizing progressive messages. That led the health-food chain Vkusvill to remove an ad featuring a lesbian couple after the Male State threatened them on social media; the couple in question soon fled Russia. However, there was a company that decided to fight back, Vyatsky Kvas, a fizzy-drink manufacturer; and that would be the beginning of the end for the Male State.

Instead of taking down the Instagram ad featuring a black model that it was targeted for, Vyatsky Kvas launched a project called Racism In An Online Format, which resulted in open calls for retaliation by the Male State. Again, the company fought back, publishing a very brave post to incite the authorities to take action; indeed, soon prosecutors in the respective area appealed to outlaw the extremist group.

The ruling of the Court in 2021 was a victory, albeit in a single battle, not the whole war; and I use this phrasing intentionally since, be it from Podgorica or anywhere else, the movement is still going strong -and worse- is backing Putin’s war in Ukraine…

One of the banners used in the Telegram channels associated to the Male State after the invasion in Ukraine. Image source: in.gr

Although many Telegram channels linked to the movement have been officially banned, the group’s proponents are still rather active on Russian VK, which is known for tolerating hate speech. Despite the fact that Vladimir Putin has claimed that the main goal of his military action towards Ukraine is the “denazification” of the country, his most loyal online soldiers preach about the “final solution” (allusion to the Holocaust) to the Ukrainian question. Prophetically enough, they were calling for a strike against Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, weeks before the invasion in 2022. Since then, the social media channels associated with the Male State have adopted the “Z” that has become a symbol of support for Putin’s war in Ukraine, and adored and admired acts that have cost the lives of many civilians, such as the shelling of the Kyiv television tower or the bombardment of Kharkiv. As for the latter, Pozdnyakov reacted cheerily to the blaze of Russian ammunition setting Kharkiv’s night sky on fire by calling it, disgustingly, “the disco of the century”.

  • What Is Male State, The Patriarchal Movement Russia Has Branded ‘Extremist’?. rferl.org. Available here 
  • Male State: The Russian Online Hate Group Backing Putin’s War. bellingcat.com. Available here 



Evi Tsakali
Evi Tsakali
She was born in 2001 in Athens, Greece. She has graduated from Sorbonne Law School (Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) while completing her studies in Political Science and Public Administration at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She is currently studying for her Master’s in European Interdisciplinary Studies at the College of Europe in Natolin (Warsaw), majoring in EU in the World and writing her thesis on the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece in the context of the financial crisis. She has been writing for Offline Post since October 2020, while pursuing internships in her fields of studies, including -among others- one in the Press and Media Office of the Greek Ministry for Foreign Affairs and one in the Political Office of the Greek Embassy in Paris.