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Nation-building and nationalism in today’s Russia (NEORUSS) (completed)

How is national identity perceived in Russian discourse? To what extent is the Russian national identity increasingly defined by ethnicity?

About the project

The nation-building program designed by Yeltsin for post-Soviet Russia is under strain. Central to this program is the concept of the ‘Rossiiskii’ nation, signaling a non-ethnic nation model with significant cultural and political rights to non-Russians, but held together with a high degree of common values and traditions. Today, the loss of the large, multiethnic Soviet state is accepted by an increasing number of Russians, but in the process the civic understanding of the nation is being jettisoned, and Russian nationalism, for the first time in history, seems to be turning towards a focus on ethnicity: ‘Russian’ is increasingly being understood as ‘ethnic Russian’ (‘Russkii’).


This project examined the nationality question in Russian discourse and aims to determine to what extent the Russian national identity is shifting from an imperial (and implicitly multiethnic) understanding of the nation, towards an ethnic and exclusive one. We will also look at the potential consequences this shift might have for Russian politics.

In order to document and analyze the new preconditions for nation-building in Russia, four key issues will be taken up for separate scrutiny;

  • Changes in political signals as well as the state’s actual policies
  • The nationality issue in the opposition and political fringe groups
  • Role of the media
  • Changes in the public mood


The project was coordinated by Pål Kolstø, Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Oslo. The main project partner is Helge Blakkisrud, Head of Department of Russian and Eurasian Studies, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). The third member of the Norwegian research team was PhD candidate Christine Myhrdal Lukash. To complement and strengthen the Norwegian team, we have recruited a team of leading international experts in the field of Russian nationalism.

The project was founded on a large survey carried out in partnership with ROMIR, a Russian polling agency. In the various sub-studies, quantitative data was complemented with qualitative insights.

The project additionally organised a series of "New Russian Nationalism Seminars".


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Alexseev, Mikhail; Hale, Henry. A New Wave of Russian Nationalism?
RBK Daily, 28.05.2015.

Alekseev, Mikhail; Hale, Henry. Russians See Ukraine as an Illegitimate State. The Washington Post, Monkey Cage blog. 20 May 2015.

Alekseev, Mikhail. Beyond the Polls: Google Queries and Public Protest Volatility in Russia. Program on New Approaches to Russian Security Eurasia, Policy Memo No. 278, George Washington University, Washington, DC. 09.2013

Alekseev, Mikhail. The Asymmetry of Nationalist Exclusion and Inclusion: Migration Policy Preferences in Russia, 2005-2013. Social Science Quarterly 96, pp. 759-777, 2015.

Hale, Henry E. Nationalism and the Logic of Russian Actions in Ukraine. Carnegie Forum on Rebuilding US-Russian Relations, August 2014

Hale, Henry E. Russian Nationalism and the Logic of the Kremlin’s Actions in Ukraine. The Guardian Online, 8:53. 29 August 2014.

Kolstø, Pål. Etnisk mangfold på spill. Klassekampen, 07 August 2013

Kolstø, Pål. Etnonasjonalismens grenser. Klassekampen, 04 October 2014

Kolstø, Pål. Moskva - Fremmedfryktens by. Aftenposten, 16. July 13.

Kolstø, Pål. Hatretorikk skaper frykt. Klassekampen, 5 July 2014

Kolstø, Pål. Hva vil Putin? Aftenposten, 21 March 2015

Kolstø, Pål. Moscow: City of Xenophobia. TOL, 26 July 2013

Kostø, Pål. Putins symbolske genistrek. Klassekampen, 09 May 2015, pp 38-39.

Laruelle, Marlene. Alexei Navalny and challenges in reconciling "nationalism" and "liberalism". Post-Soviet Affairs, volume 30, issue 4, pp 276-297, July 2014

Laruelle, Marlene. Conservatism as the Kremlin’s New Toolkit: an Ideology at the Lowest Cost. Russian Analytical Digest

Laruelle, Marlene. Russia as a "Divided Nation," from Compatriots to Crimea A Contribution to the Discussion on Nationalism and Foreign Policy Problems of Post-Communism, Volume: 62, Issue: 2, Special Issue: SI, Pages: 88-97. March-April 2015.

Pain, Emil. From protests to pogroms. Open democracy. 27 August 2013

Pain, Emil. Russia's Internet Party. Open Democracy, 11 June 2013

Pain, Emil. Imperial nationalism: emergence, evolution and political prospects in Russia. Obshchestvennye nauki i sovremennost, pp 54-71. February 2015.

Pain, Emil. Contemporary Russian nationalism in the mirror of Runet. Moscow, Sova center. A, Verkhovskii (ed.): Rossiia – eto ne Ukraina: sovremennye aktsenty natsionalizma, pp 8-31, 2014. 

Rutland, Peter. A Putinkin opening ceremony in Sochi. The Moscow Times, 13 February 2014

Rutland, Peter. By glorifying World War One, Putin ignores its tragedy. Moscow Times, 4 August 2014

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Rutland, Peter. Crimea: What is Putin thinking? Transitions Online, 5 March 2014

Rutland, Peter. Crisis in Abkhazia is not yet over. Moscow Times, 10 June 2014

Rutland, Peter. How much longer can Putin’s system last? Moscow Times, 27 October 2014Rutland, Peter; Smolkin-Rothrock, Victoria. Looking back at Brezhnev, Russian History 41 (p.299-306.), 2014

Rutland, Peter. Getting Russian wrong. Moscow Times.10. April 2014

Rutland, Peter. Malaysian airline crash appears to be tragic error not act of war. Daily Mirror, 17 July 2014

Rutland, Peter. Nationalism beyond the parades. Transitions Online, 4 August 2014

Rutland, Peter. No Arab Spring in Russia, yet. The Moscow Times, 24 February 2015

Rutland, Peter. Petronation? Oil, gas, and national identity in Russia. Post-Soviet Affairs, Volume: 30   Issue: 4   Pages: 276-297. 2 January 2015

Rutland, Peter. Putin's political predicament. The Moscow Times, 5 February 2014

Rutland, Peter. Snowden tests Putin's Machiavellianism. The Moscow Times, 19 August 2013

Rutland, Peter. The Pussy Riot affair: Gender and national identity in Putin's Russia. Nationalities Papers, 42 (4), 575-82. July 2014.

Rutland, Peter. The US and EU don't have an Ukraine strategy. The Moscow Times, 23 July 2014.

Rutland, Peter. Ukraine after Vilnius. Transitions Online, 11 December 2013.

Rutland, Peter. Ukrainian lessons. Transitions Online, 10 April 2014.

Rutland, Peter. Vuitton’s faux pas on Red Square. The Moscow Times, 13 Desember 2013.

Tolz, Vera; Hutchins, Steven. Analysis of the television coverage of interethnic relations and nationalism in Russia 2010- 2013. Analytical Centre SOVA, Moscow, February 2014

Tolz, Vera; Harding, Sue-Ann. "Compatriots" to "Aliens": The Changing Coverage of Migration on Russian Television. Russian Review, 2015, vol. 73, no. 3. pp. 452-477

Tolz, Vera; Hutchins, Steven. Modern Russian Memory of the Great War. The Empire and Nationalism at War, Bloomington: Slavica Press, 2014, pp 257-287.

Tolz, Vera. Race and Ethnicity on Russian Television: News Coverage of the Manezhnaia Riots Neue alte Rassismen? Differenz und Exklusion in Europa nach 1989. Bielefeld: Transcript-Verlag, 2014, pp. 223-253.

Umland, Andreas. Das eurasische Reich Dugins und Putins: Ähnlichkeiten und Unterschiede. Kritiknetz - Zeitschrift für Kritische Theorie der Gesellschaft. 26 June 2014

Umand, Andreas. Neue rechtsextreme Intellektuellenzirkel in Putins Russland:das Anti-Orange Komitee, der Isborsk-Klub und der Florian-Geyer-Klub. Russland-Analysen [Forschungsstelle Osteuropa Bremen], no. 256 (2013), pp. 1-9.

Umland, Andreas. Russia - The Uses of Extremism: The Emergence of Three Far-Right Discussion Clubs and Their Links to the Kremlin Spell More Bad News for East-West Relations. Transitions online, 28 August 2013

Umland, Andreas. Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s World War III: The NATO Label and Defamation in German Political Debates. Krytyka (Harvard University), 21 january 2015

Published Oct. 27, 2020 12:22 PM - Last modified May 27, 2022 2:18 PM