Thursday, March 4, 2021

Putin Appears Worried about Rise in Russian Nationalism

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 3 – Less than a month after he suggested that the slogan “Russia for the Russians” was dangerous (, Vladimir Putin says the government must devote more attention to “the struggle with extremism” by blocking nationalist and xenophobic propaganda.

            The Kremlin leader’s words, of course, cover other nationalisms as well, but given remark last month, it appears that he is particularly concerned now about Russian nationalism and its spread via the Internet, something a new law forces providers to identify and remove (

            That is certainly the interpretation Moscow political scientist Mikhail Mirzoyan gives to Putin’s words. They mean, he says, that “the danger of the development of nationalism in Russia is still present,” something many admit at the level of everyday interactions of people of different backgrounds (

            While nationalism is perhaps most likely to grow in areas where ethnic groups are intermixed especially at the margins of the core location of most members of the group, that is not the case with Russian nationalism, Mirzoyan says. Instead, Russian nationalism is far more prevalent in Central Russia, which is overwhelmingly ethnic Russian that elsewhere, he says his studies have found.

            He argues that a major explanation for this is that those regions experienced serfdom, Russia’s form of slavery, and thus people with that background are more likely to be envious of others and angry at them than are those, like Russians beyond the Urals, who did not have that past and do not display those attitudes nearly as often. 

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