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The New Russian Nationalism

Imperialism, Ethnicity and Authoritarianism 2000–2015

Edited by Pål Kolstø, Helge Blakkisrud

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Follows the transformation of Russian nationalist discourse in the 21st century, from imperialism to ethno-nationalism

Russian nationalism, previously dominated by ‘imperial’ tendencies – pride in a large, strong and multi-ethnic state able to project its influence abroad – is increasingly focused on ethnic issues. This new ethno-nationalism has come in various guises, like racism and xenophobia, but also in a new intellectual movement of ‘national democracy’ deliberately seeking to emulate conservative West European nationalism.

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List of Figures and Tables

Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Russian nationalism is back – but precisely what does that mean? Pål Kolstø

1. The ethnification of Russian nationalism, Pål Kolstø

2. The imperial syndrome and its influence on Russian nationalism, Emil Pain

3. Radical nationalists from the start of Medvedev’s presidency to the war in Donbas – true till death? Alexander Verkhovsky

4. Russian ethnic nationalism and religion today, Nastasia Mitrofanova

5. Everyday nationalism in Russia in European context: Moscow residents’ perceptions of ethnic minority migrants and migration, Natalya Kosmarskaya and Igor Savin

6. Backing the USSR 2.0: Russia’s ethnic minorities and expansionist ethnic Russian nationalism, Mikhail Alexseev

7. Rallying ’round the leader more than the flag: changes in Russian nationalist public opinion 2013–14, Mikhail A. Alexseev and Henry E. Hale

8. How nationalism and machine politics mix in Russia, Henry E. Hale

9. Blurring the boundary between civic and ethnic: the Kremlin’s new approach to national identity under Putin’s third term, Helge Blakkisrud

10. Russia as an anti-liberal European civilisation, Marlene Laruelle

11. Ethnicity and nationhood on Russian state-aligned television: contextualising geopolitical crisis, Stephen Hutchings and Vera Tolz

12. The place of economics in Russian national identity debates, Peter Rutland



About the Author

Pål Kolstø is Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Oslo. He has authored two books and a number of articles and book chapters on Russian politics, Russian history and nationalism. Previously, he was Researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, 1987–90, and Interpreter at the Norwegian-Soviet border, 1982-83. His main research areas are nationalism, nation-building, ethnic conflicts, nationality policy in Russia, the former Soviet Union and the Western Balkans. He has published roughly 40 articles in English-language refereed journals, in addition to numerous publications in other languages. He is the recipient of six large research grants to study nation-building and ethnic relations in the post-Soviet world and the former Eastern Europe.

Helge Blakkisrud is the Head of the Research Group on Russia, Eurasia and the Arctic, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. Main research areas: federalism and centre-region relations in the Russian Federation, nationalism and nation-building in Russia and Eurasia, including in Eurasian de facto states. Editor in chief of the Nordic journal for East European and Eurasian Studies (Nordisk Østfroum). Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, UC Berkeley, 2009-2010, lecturer at the OSCE Academy, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, since 2008.


A long-overdue analysis of contemporary Russian nationalism that not only discusses everyday xenophobia but also links the issue of nationalism with great-power ambitions and the Ukraine crisis (Chapters 2, 3 and 7)… The editors succeeded in bringing together a range of expert authors to contribute on different facets of nationalism, ranging from ethnic minority perception (Chapter 5, Chapter 11) and nationalist tendencies in foreign policy (Chapter 7) to religion (Chapter 4) and economic considerations in nationalism (Chapter 12)… The book’s contribution to the field is unquestionable.

- Elizaveta Gaufman, University of Tübingen, Nations and Nationalism

There are several excellent books on Russian national identity, but this collection surpasses them all. The New Russian Nationalism should now be the starting point for anyone studying contemporary Russian nationalism.

- Peter J.S. Duncan, University College London

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