During the first years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s administration paid little or no attention to the old symbols of Russian national pride. Liberal ideology, as Yeltsin’s advisers understood it, had nothing to do with the old symbolism. The revolutionary wave that Yeltsin rode tended to destroy all symbols of the Soviet past, crush monuments, and change cities’ and streets’ names.
Vladimir Putin moved into the Kremlin with a significantly different attitude. His adviser Gleb Pavlovskii is famous for his ability to utilize political symbols for the president’s benefit. And as the period of revolutionary activity has transitioned to a period of stabilization, Putin’s most impressive achievements lie in the sphere of symbolic politics. He expelled oligarchs, reintroduced the Soviet anthem, and suppressed those TV channels that opposed him. Putin has succeeded in creating a new symbolic landscape for Russia. […]