Book highlight from “Understanding Contemporary Ukrainian and Russian Nationalism: The Post-Soviet Cossack Revival and Ukraine’s National Security” by Dr Olexander Hryb.
Part 1 of the highlight introduced the concept of Eurasianism. Part 2 focuses on Putin’s statements of his civic nationalism. If you continue visiting our Blog Page you’ll be able to read further parts of the highlight.
4.2.2 Putin’s nationalism: Known knowns
Newly elected President Putin accepted in his Millennium message (2000) Yeltsin’s term Rossiiskiy Narod (Russian people or nation) as oppose to Russkiy narod (more narrow ethnic definition). He stated explicitly that Russia is a multi-ethnic nation while addressing the United Russia conference in 2011: ‘Let those who proclaim the slogans of social and ethnic intolerance and are smuggling in all kinds of populist and provocative ideas that actually lead to national betrayal and ultimately to the break-up of our country, know that: we are a single Russian nation, a united and indivisible Russia’. In this context Putin could be considered as a ‘statist’ (gosudarstvennik) as he is preoccupied first of all with survival of the Russian state with its 20 millions of Muslims and over a hundred officially recognised ethnicly defined nationalities. He disbanded (in 2001) Russia’s first Ministry for nationalities set up by academician Tishkov under president Yeltsin to deal with bilateral treaties demanded by Tatarstan and other national (ethnic) autonomies. Putin explained clearly that he would not tolerate any regional (ethnic) movements towards greater autonomy or self-determination:
‘As for notorious concept of self-determination, a slogan used by all kinds of politicians who have fought for power and geopolitical dividends, from Vladimir Lenin to Woodrow Wilson, the Russian people made their choice long ago. The self-determination of the Russian people is to be a multi-ethnic civilization with Russian culture at its core. The Russian people have confirmed their choice time and again during their thousand-year history – with their blood, not through plebiscites or referendums’.
Putin’s article ‘Russia: the national question’ appeared in Nezavisimaya gazeta in January 2012 and two years later Russian government criminalised any public pronouncements that could be considered as expressions of separatism. The above quote is important not only as a de facto warning against future attempts by federal autonomies to claim the right of self-determination but also as a clear rejection of Soviet (Leninist) nationality policies. Putin openly criticised Lenin in the past saying that Soviet Nationality policy, that accepted the right of self-determination for 15th Soviet republics, was a ‘time-bomb’ laid under the foundations of the Soviet Union. By 2012 Putin openly disassociates himself from Lenin whom he listed among other ‘all kind of politicians’, including a US president, who believed in ‘notorious concept of self-determination’ merely fighting for personal power dividends (Hill 2012). Putin’s ‘national question’ manifesto proclaims a clear departure from Marxist-Leninist postulate about inevitable evolution of nationally divided oppressed peoples into a future class-less culturally homogenised (communist) society. Instead, Putin states his belief in ‘A multi-ethnic civilization with Russian culture at its core’. This is effectively Putin’s statements of his civic nationalism i.e. a political principle assuming that Russian culture should coincide with the borders of the multi-ethnic Russian state. Borders, in Putin’s view, that could not be challenged from inside or outside, but not limited to expand.
Coming up next on our Blog: 4.2.3 Putin’s nationalism: Known unknowns
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr Olexander Hryb is a London based writer with over 20 years experience in research, analysis, media and PR. He studied history, politics and the sociology of culture in Lviv, Prague and Warsaw. Olexander worked as a broadcaster and online journalist for the BBC World Service, Polish Radio (Overseas Service) and as analyst for DCD Intelligence. He is currently an associated member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology as well as a Cultural Adviser in the British Army. His articles appeared in the Ukrainian Review (London), Border and Territorial Disputes of the World Series (John Harper), and the British Army Review.
“Understanding Contemporary Ukrainian and Russian Nationalism: The Post-Soviet Cossack Revival and Ukraine’s National Security” by Dr Olexander Hryb is available on Amazon:
ABOUT “UKRAINIAN VOICES” BOOK SERIES
Dr Hryb’s book is the second volume in the “Ukrainian Voices” book series.
The “Ukrainian Voices” book series includes English- and German-language monographs, edited volumes, document collections and anthologies of articles authored and composed by Ukrainian politicians, intellectuals, activists, officials, researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, and diplomats.
The series aims to introduce Western and broader audiences to Ukrainian explorations and interpretations of historic and current domestic as well as international affairs.
The purpose of these books is to familiarise non-Ukrainian readers with how some prominent Ukrainians approach, research and assess their country’s development and position in the world. The series was founded in 2019, and the volumes are collected by Andreas Umland.
You can watch an online presentation of the first volume of the series – Ukraine’s Maidan, Russia’s War by Mychailo Wynnytsky here