Policy Memos

Official Patriotism in Russia: Its Essence and Implications

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After a brief burst of optimism following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia fell into a funk. The economy failed to take off, and by the end of the decade it was no better – and in some ways even worse – than it had been at its start. In foreign affairs, relations between Russia and the West became increasingly strained due to a series of perceived diplomatic setbacks and snubs (including resistance to Russian membership in the World Trade Organization and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s interventions in the former Yugoslavia). There was deep humiliation and rage over the failed campaign in Chechnya from 1994 to 1996; as the decade wore on, this was coupled with anxieties about the emergence of a terrorist threat associated with Islamic radicalism emanating from Russia’s southern fringe. Not only did this threaten national security from without, it also raised concerns about the viability of a civic national identity for polyglot Russia, whose population was composed of well over 100 ethnic groups, including roughly 20-25 million Muslims. Yet another disturbing trend was globalization and the loss of national identity it seemed to portend, particularly its negative effects on the younger generation’s worldview. By the late 1990s, it was impossible to ignore the evidence of rampant drug abuse, crime, anomie, and alienation. [...]

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About the author

Professor of Political Science
Providence College