This issue of Pro et Contra is devoted to the problems of Russian nationalism—nationalist sentiments among the Russian people and pertinent government policies. These subjects are especially relevant in view of the policy of protecting “ours” in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
Nationalism in Russia: Public Sentiments and State Policy
“Foreign” Nationalisms and “Native” Xenophobias
The suppression of social dynamics against the backdrop of increasing self-isolation and corruption translates into greater compensatory mechanisms—witch hunts, xenophobia, anti-Western sentiments. This is neither commonly accepted ideology nor state policy; it is not even the post-traumatic reaction to the breakup of the Soviet Union anymore. Above all, this is dissatisfaction with increasing social uncertainty and ineffective government structures, which is based on paternalistic paradigms and egalitarian perceptions of the majority of the population.
Federal Ethnopolitics and the Resurgence of Russian Nationalism
The Kremlin may understand the danger of playing the ethnic card any further and hence present some systemic program that counteracts ethnonationalism and ethnic xenophobia. It is only possible if the ruling circles make an effort to reach a working agreement on the practical programs directed at the integration of internal and external migrants, as well as the transition from populist fluctuations on the issue of “regulating migration” to a realistic migration policy.
Xenophobia and Nationalism at the Time of Russian Misery
Can civic nationalism develop in Russia? Russia has never had a nation state built around popular sovereignty. In theory, the concept of nation building may be no less attractive to the Russians than it had been for the citizens of the Eastern European and Baltic countries. However, the citizens of these countries associated the empire that their national state attempted to break free from with the external enemy, while for Russia this empire is internal. Will the Russians be able to squeeze the empire out of themselves?
Russian Nationalism as a Subject of Scientific Research
Until now, the tacit idеаs have been couched in patriotic rhetoric, which allows for promoting common social values and practices, as well as cultivating the collective memory, whose key elements are the Soviet culture and World War II. But the quest to develop the concept of patriotism opens Pandora’s Box, unleashing nationalism and triggering the chain reaction of interaction between the “Russian nationalism” and different varieties of “non-Russian nationalism.”
Ethnic Migration and Crime
The distinct Russian conditions somewhat limit the application of concepts and recommendations offered by Western analysts vis-à-vis Russia. Most of the Western research focuses on the ethnic neighborhoods in large Russian cities, while such neighborhoods have not yet become commonplace in Russia. Besides, internal ethnic migration plays a significant role for Russia. The criminal component of conflicts in smaller localities also presents an especially serious problem.
Migration Flows from Central Asia to Russia as Part of the New World Order
The scale, distance and frequency of movement are increasing across the entire post-Soviet space and the world at large. In addition, there is clearly a link between mobility and the modern phase of capitalist development, which is sometimes referred to as globalization, postindustrialism, or post-modernity. The Central Asian case appears in somewhat of a different light from this vantage point; it is not simply a reflection on the ruinous state of affairs in the newly independent countries.
The Transformation of the North Caucasus
The North Caucasus is a focal point for massive problems, deep-seated conflicts, and large-scale difficulties. But these are not the problems and conflicts that are lodged in the public consciousness and the perceptions of the decision-makers. And if the diagnosis is wrong, the treatment can hardly be right. Therefore, one should not be surprised by the fact that the approaches used to improve the situation in the North Caucasus do not work. New approaches that take the real facts on the ground into account have to be formulated.
The Complicated Revival of the Russian Opposition
After the Communist collapse, Russia failed to take advantage of the new window of opportunities for the country’s democratization. It seemed that the ruling groups have managed to board up this window quite solidly in the two decades of authoritarianism-building in Russia. However, the 2011—2012 protest wave allowed the opposition to open the window of opportunities just a crack. The demand for change in Russia may grow with time, giving new chances to the opposition, but there is no guarantee that the opposition will use them successfully.
Only one state institution actually has legislative powers—the legislature itself. It is a unique entity capable of translating a legislative innovation into a binding legal instrument. However, in Russia its political powers are limited—both in terms of its internal workings and its formation and interaction with the other branches of government. This limitation cannot be compensated for by the creation of additional entities which imitate what the parliament is supposed to do while actually lacking its powers.
Stanislav Lvovskiy, Andrey Medushevskiy