The new issue of Pro et Contra is devoted to societal shifts that have evolved in Russia over recent years. There is a growing and irreparable rift between the government and its most modernized Russian constituencies. Relations and interactions between Russians who are more and less modernized will define the country's future development.
Social Capital and Ideological Orientations
The stages and the nature of political evolution in Russia will be determined by the calendar of future electoral campaigns, first of all, in the regions. The events around these elections will have bigger implications for the urban population, especially in Moscow, where there are conditions for alternative social and political structures to emerge. At the same time, no radical change can be expected in the foreseeable future. Scenarios of a revolutionary transformation, split of the elite, or a takeover of power by one of factions in the government that would subsequently initiate radical democratic reforms are all unlikely. This is due to the fact that the society has not yet formed cohesive forces that would be able to offer new forms of social organization.
Two Nations, Two Churches
Today in the “broad society” at one pole there is the authoritarian regime and its supporters (genuine and coopted), and at the other—democratically-minded citizens. Within the Orthodox community at one pole there are church leaders and their allies, who have demonstrated their readiness to support the authoritarian state and oppose the democratic movement, at the other—Orthodox citizens who have just begun to realize their own political opportunities. So far the transformation is reduced to the level of perception, as the civic Orthodox forces do not rush to institutionalize themselves.
Russia’s Migration Dilemma
The contradiction between the policy of the Russian state that is aimed to preserve liberal visa regime with the CIS countries and the mostly restrictive sentiments of the population, hinder any effort to make Russia’s migration policy coherent and effective. As a result, the government refuses to introduce restrictive measures (in particular, the introduction of visa regime), while the widespread public opinion blocks any attempts to liberalize the policy.
Siberian Identity as a Form of Political Statement
Alla Anisimova and Olga Echevskaya
The growth of regional self-identity observed in Siberia over the recent years is largely due to a perception that the federal center does not treat the local population fairly. At the same time, the sense of injustice among the people or the desire to change the unfavorable situation fail to generate civic activism as a way to realize the emerging regional interests. Such inconsistency can be explained by local factors (living conditions, mentality, migration), as well as by people’s lack of trust in their own ability to change the situation. People do not believe that civic engagement and collective action can be successful.
Symbolic Unity of the Nation?
The debate, provoked by Putin’s campaign articles has clearly demonstrated how fundamentally divergent are the views on collective identity within the community that forms the Russian state. The new stage of party building that will follow the amendments to the legislation on political parties is likely to be a catalyst for heated debates over this and other issues. In a changed environment symbolic demonstration of the “unity” is not enough. It is still not clear how the nature of public communication will change and what technologies of civic mobilization will prevail.
The Invention of Tradition
Several common features can be identified among the recently invented symbols (Ribbon of St. George, “memorial candle,” and “Smolensk Cross”). First of all, their success relies on the usage of historical tradition. This is true in the case of Ribbon of St. George, not to mention the Ukrainian “memorial candle” and the cross in Poland. The appeal to the martyrology is also an important element of emotional impact produced by these symbols. Their supporters consistently deny their political character. At the same time, the more pronounced is the link between a symbol and a particular political force, the more limited is its impact on people, who do not support this political force.
Ivan Grigoriev, Filipp Chapkovsky, Francis Fukuyama, Pyotr Cheryomushkin