up perspectives to compliment the more elite-oriented contributions of the present volume.
Kolstø and Blakkisrud’s volume is timely and important, and it should be considered obli-
gatory reading for anyone interested in the topic.
Beissinger, Mark R. 2002.Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Billig, Michael. 1995.Banal Nationalism. London: Sage.
Gellner, Ernest. 1983.Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Goode, J. Paul. 2012.“Nationalism in Quiet Times: Ideational Power and Post-Soviet Electoral
Authoritarianism.”Problems of Post-Communism 59 (3): 6–16.
Kaufmann, Eric P. 2004.“Dominant Ethnicity: From Background to Foreground.”In Rethinking
Ethnicity: Majority Groups and Dominant Minorities, edited by Eric P. Kaufmann, 1–12.
New York: Routledge.
Korchenkova, Natal’ia, and Sergei Goriashko. 2016.“Kazhdyi chetvertyi boitsia delitsia mneniem s
sotsiologom”[One out of Four People Is Afraid to Share Their Opinion with Sociologists].
Kommersant, January 22. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://kommersant.ru/doc/2897562.
Laruelle, Marlene. 2009.In the Name of the Nation: Nationalism and Politics in Contemporary
Russia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Putin, Vladimir. 2014.“Obrashchenie Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii”[Address by the President of
the Russian Federation]. Prezident Rossii. Accessed August 27, 2014. http://kremlin.ru/
Shevel, Oxana. 2011.“Russian Nation-building from Yel’tsin to Medvedev: Ethnic, Civic or
Purposefully Ambiguous?”Europe-Asia Studies 63 (2): 179–202.
Smith, Anthony D. 2011.“National Identity and Vernacular Mobilisation in Europe.”Nations and
Nationalism 17 (2): 223–256.
Whitmeyer, Joseph M. 2002.“Elites and Popular Nationalism.”British Journal of Sociology 53 (3):
Yack, Bernard. 1996.“The Myth of the Civic Nation.”Critical Review 10 (2): 193–211.
© 2017, J. Paul Goode
Department of Political Science, Tufts University, Medford, MA
The New Russian Nationalism: Imperialism, Ethnicity and Authoritarianism 2000–15 is a
timely volume that presents readers with a rich and up-to-date analysis of the content of,
contestation over, and consequences of Russian nationalism under Putin. The editors
brought together the very top names in the study of Russian nationalism from North
America, Europe, and Russia, and the end result is an impressive collection of chapters ana-
lyzing issues such as changes and continuity and nuances of public opinion in Russia; the
(dis)similarities between historical, early post-Soviet, and most recent debates over Russian
national identity; the relationship between growing authoritarianism and the recent ethniﬁ-
cation of Russian nationalism; the role played by religion, television, economics; and more.
710 Book Symposium
In a short response essay it’s not possible to equally engage with the arguments in each
chapter; so this comment will primarily focus on the chapters comprising the second part
of the book that analyzes state-level Russian nationalism under Putin (and less on the
ﬁrst part of the volume that focuses on society-level Russian nationalism).
The main thrust of most of the chapters focusing on state-level Russian nationalism is
that it has taken a turn toward a more ethno-centrist position under Putin’s third term, in
contrast to more statist state-level nationalism under Yeltsin and initially under Putin. An
important exception here is Laruelle, who argues that Putin’s recent emphasis on protecting
the interests of russkie is not really an expression of Russian ethnic nationalism but, rather,
that russkii terminology refers to a civilizational and cultural understanding of Russianness,
and as such represents a historical continuation rather than a change in the ofﬁcial views.
Blakkisrud’s chapter also offers an important nuance by pointing out that recent ethnicifca-
tion in the ofﬁcial discourse constitutes not a clear-cut ethnonationalism, but what he calls a
simultaneous “narrowing in and widening up”(256) –that is, emphasizing the importance
of ethnic Russians within the federation, while deﬁning ethnic russkii identity in broader
cultural terms, which blurs the external borders of the “self”and allows reaching out to
Russian-speaking diasporas in neighboring states.
The chapters of the volume identify several causes behind more ethno-centric ofﬁcial
expressions of nationalism after 2011, and especially after 2014, as manifested most
starkly by the annexation of Crimea and the ofﬁcial justiﬁcation of this move. These
causes include the growth of labor migration from the non-Slavic former Soviet republics
in the 2000s, spurred by Russia’s economic recovery, and the associated increase in migran-
tophobia in the Russian population; the Russian diaspora in the neighboring states; and
threats to the regime manifested in the anti-Putin political protests of 2011, the recent econ-
omic downturn and resulting drop in Putin’s popularity; as well as the 2014 Euromaidan
events in Ukraine perceived as threatening to the authoritarian governance model con-
structed by Putin. With ethnic threads always present to some extent in the ofﬁcial rhetoric
and ofﬁcially voiced nation-building options, the regime turned to ethnic nationalism more
explicitly after the 2011 protests and especially after the Euromaidan victory in Ukraine in
an effort to boost popular support. These arguments are developed in nuanced and convin-
cing ways in several chapters of this volume, most comprehensively in those by Kolstø, Hale,
and Blakkisrud, and also Pain and Rutland. While it is certainly plausible that all of these
factors contributed to ethnicization of Russian nationalism, one could take issue with some
of the postulated causal relationships. For example, migration from the “near abroad”to
Russia was at very high levels in the early and mid-1990s, putting great strain on the
Russian state, which was then in the midst of economic crisis. The Russian and Russian-
speaking diasporas in the “near abroad”were arguably also in a more precarious position
during the immediate post-Soviet years in comparison with the late 2000s, with bloody con-
ﬂicts ranging in several former Soviet republics and legal measures downgrading the privi-
leged status of the Russian language and in some cases denying citizenship access for the
Russian speakers coming into being. It then remains puzzling why the Yeltsin government
stuck with the less ethno-centric ofﬁcial nationalism than Putin has done in recent years.
In addition to the causes of recent ethnicization of Russian nationalism, another interesting
theoretical issue raised by this volume is the relationship between ofﬁcial expressions of
nationalism by state leaders and domestic and foreign policies pursued by these leaders. Dif-
ferently put, does the content of nationalism have causal consequences for state policies, or do
rhetorical expressions of nationalism, while admittedly worthy of a study in and of themselves,
at the same time have only limited causal impact on state policies? In the case of Russia this
dilemma is all the more pertinent because what constitutes ethnic and what constitutes non-
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ethnic in the Russian context is ambiguous and complex –something that is acknowledged
virtually without exception by the volume’s contributors, who further show that the ethnic/
non-ethnic boundary has always been blurred in ofﬁcial policies, and that state leaders have
always toyed with ethnic nationalism at least to a degree, even when they pursued purportedly
statist as opposed to ethnic policies. So if in Russia there is a broad “menu”of varieties of
nationalism that can be taken up by state leaders and presented for public consumption, the
question remains whether the recent greater emphasis on ethnic terminology in ofﬁcial rhetoric
actually helps to explain the dramatic events of the recent years –from authoritarian consoli-
dation domestically after the 2011 protests to the 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for
separatism in the Donbas conﬂict. Differently put, were these policies a direct outgrowth of the
ethniﬁcation of nationalism in Russia, or were they developed for reasons that possibly had
little to do with the content of nationalism, being driven instead by, for example, geopolitical
objectives of maintaining power in the “near abroad”or the goal of eliminating domestic pol-
itical challenges to the regime, with ethniﬁcation rhetoric from state leaders being merely a
wrapper used to package these policies for presentation to the Russian public? And how
can we tell if the latter or the former is the case? If the latter is the case, the fact that articulated
state-level nationalism has become more ethnic might not be particularly consequential for
dramatic changes in Russia’s state domestic and foreign policies that developed at the same
time. If we further consider the fact that Russian public opinion itself has ﬂuctuated, and
deeper probing, as done by a number of chapter authors in this volume, shows that a
survey response may contain a complex underlying attitude (e.g. a migrantophobic large-N
survey response may coexist with more benign attitudes to migrants expressed through an
in-depth interview, as Kosmarskaya and Savin’s chapter shows; or Hale and Alexseev’s
point that attitudes on ethnic pride and ethno-centrism did not spiked before the Crimea
annexation), this further calls into question the relationship between public nationalism,
state-level nationalism, and state polices. Given that these questions carry themselves through-
out chapters of the volume, the volume would have beneﬁted from a concluding chapter relat-
ing ﬁndings of individual chapters to this set of theoretical questions.
Another broader issue that the volume’s chapters on state policies should be
commended for addressing –but where the analysis could have also been extended
further –is classiﬁcation of the varieties of Russian nationalism. Kolstø’s leading chapter
offers a parsimonious typology of Russian nationalism in a two-by-two table, which will
be a handy tool for both scholars and classroom instructors. Kolstø’s two-axis model
(23) creates four ideal types of Russian nationalism, based on whether the interests of
the state or the interests of the Russian ethnic group are the main concern (x axis), and
whether nationalism is expansionist (“‘empire’oriented”), or “‘core’oriented”(focused
on the existing borders of the Russian state) (y axis). The author ﬁnds that over time
Russian nationalism has become simultaneously more ethnic and more core-orientated.
The theoretical model is compelling and parsimonious, but some of the facts on the
ground do not ﬁt the model neatly, not least the annexation of Crimea and the expansion
of Russian territory. With the annexation of Crimea the Russian state territory expanded
for the ﬁrst time in the post-Soviet period, and this territorial expansion took place while
nationalism supposedly became more “core”-oriented, while no territorial expansion was
even attempted, let alone executed, during the earlier post-Soviet years when “empire”-
oriented nationalism was stronger.
The shift along the x axis, from more statist to more ethnic, could also be problematized
by asking what more ethnic and more civic policies actually look like? To be sure, refer-
ences to ethnic Russians as the “state-bearing”or “state-forming”people of the federation
have grown in ofﬁcial speeches and state documents in recent years, as several chapters
712 Book Symposium
document, Blakkisrud’s most thoroughly. But beyond this rhetoric and a new State Strategy
on Nationality Policy adopted in 2012 (analyzed by Blakkisrud), one could contend that not
much has changed as far as the content of state polices: the ethno-federal structure of the
state has not been dismantled, privileges for ethnic Russians have not found their way
into state laws (at least not explicitly), and ethnic non-Russians not just inside but also
outside Russia could still claim afﬁliation to the Russian state by virtue of being “compa-
triots”–the notoriously and, as I have argued elsewhere, purposefully, ambiguous legal cat-
egory that relies on one’s stated afﬁnity with Russian language, culture, and “spiritual
connection”with Russia (Shevel 2011). Since April 2014, Russian-speaking compatriots
are further entitled to Russian citizenship under simpliﬁed rules, but it is debatable
whether this policy illustrates a more ethnic-oriented approach since it neither singles out
ethnic Russians, nor precludes more “imperial”interpretations, along the lines of Blakkis-
rud’s“widening up”notion, as it reaches to fuzzily deﬁned compatriots outside Russia’s
state borders. These issues notwithstanding, the volume is bound to become an invaluable
reference for both researchers of Russian nationalism and for instructors teaching under-
graduate and graduate courses. Its timely content, thematic breadth, and theoretical
issues raised will provide rich material for analysis and discussion for years to come.
Shevel, Oxana. 2011.“Russian Nation-Building from Yel’tsin to Medvedev: Civic, Ethnic, or
Purposefully Ambiguous?”Europe-Asia Studies 63 (2): 179–202.
© 2017, Oxana Shevel
Wilson Center, Washington, DC
The changes in the Kremlin’s domestic and international policy after Vladimir Putin’s
return to the presidency in 2012 surprised both ofﬁcials and academics around the world.
In response, there is a growing body of literature addressing the questions “Who is Mr.
Putin really?”and “What is his endgame?”(see Hill and Gaddy 2013 and others). Putin
is indisputably able to drive Russia’s social and political changes. What has yet to be deter-
mined is how Putin dictates these changes and how his policies are enacted. Understanding
Vladimir Putin’s personality and his domestic political goals are necessary, but not sufﬁ-
cient to identify the driving forces behind Russian politics and international policy. The
ease with which Putin has been shaping Russia’s development cannot be explained by
the authoritarian nature of the regime alone. It is essential to analyze broader underlying
trends, including developments in public opinion and discourses of national identity.
These trends made the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine both concei-
vable and natural (Hopf 2016). Contrary to widespread belief, Putin does not shape public
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