POL354 Lecture 12 – Russian Identity
Thursday, December 1, 2011
The country has struggled with its national identity in the Post-Soviet period. The country
has gone through three different regimes, separated by revolutions, in the 20 century
 the Russian Imperialist Regime  the core of the Soviet Union  Post soviet - 15
separate nation states, including the Russians.
The reality is that in both the Soviet case and Russian Federation case, the elites and public
have entered into public discussions into what the nature of the new nation is, and should
In the post-Soviet period has involved reconstructing the Russian identity along territorial
lines. The issue of language has become critical. Issue of religion institutions and values that
had been undermined, if not destroyed, during the Soviet period. The issue of “who we are”
in terms of the narrative that defines us, our history constructs a story of who we are..
Debate between slavophiles and western values/institutions
We can examine this debate in many ways – through intellectuals and academics, school
textbooks, the media, political leaders, etc…
The Construction and Reconstruction of Public Space
The debates that have occurred in Moscow over the architecture of the city reflect the
broader debates of who Russians are. Can look at aspects of the Russian Soviet past that
have been glorified or disavowed, and we can also see a number of contested spaces –
monuments, buildings, other facades – that have not yet been resolved in the context of how
they fit into the narrative of Russian identity.
Historical centre of Moscow, dating back 850 years
It is the centre of the city – the Kremlin was historically the core of the city through
the Russian Empire through to modern Russia
Red Square is one of the most contested areas of the entire city.
There are four different messages on each side of the square:
o Cathedral symbol of Orthodox Imperialist Russia
o Wall of the Kremlin on the