Spring 2017

Is Nationalism a Force for Change in Russia?

Marlene Laruelle
There are three categories of Russian nationalist actors: nonstate actors, whose agenda is anti-Putin; parastate actors, who have their own ideological niche, not always in tune with the presidential administration’s narrative, but who operate under the state umbrella; and state actors, in particular, the presidential administration. Nonstate actors, who embody Russian ethnonationalism and whose agenda is anti-Putin, pose a serious threat to the regime. But the Kremlin is not “frozen” in terms of ideology, and its flexibility allows it to adapt to evolving situations. Marlene Laruelle suggests that one of the most plausible scenarios is the rise of a figure inside the establishment who would be able to prevent the polarization of Russian nationalism and could co-opt some of its slogans and leaders, gradually channeling the official narrative toward a more state-controlled nationalism.
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