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Homogenisation and the 'New Russian Citizen' : A Road to Stability or Ethnic Tension?

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Author(s): Federica Prina

Journal: Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe
ISSN 1617-5247

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 59;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Russia | minorities | minority rights | homogenization | integration | nationality | education | patriotism | multiculturalism | identity

ABSTRACT
This article investigates the phenomenon of homogenizing policies in post-Yeltsin Russia. This consists of a series of measures that have effectively downgraded ethnicity and increased uniformity. First, the article outlines theories linking multiculturalism and ethnic pluralism, and indeed minority rights, to stability. Second, the article traces the trajectory of nationality policies from the Soviet to the post-Soviet periods, and explains the (post-Yeltsin) Russian authorities’ choice to distance themselves from earlierpractices, opting for homogenization. Third, it delineates the forms of deethnification: the promotion of a civic Russian identity (the ‘the new Russian citizen’) to the detriment of minority identities, and the restructuring of the Federation to reduce the salience of ethnicity. In light of the theories linking multiculturalism and stability, the article then examines whether the current‘homogenizing’ policies bring a fragile and ephemeral or a durable and solid political stability. The article concludes that, on one side, the measures might be reducing minorities’ demands for the preservation of ethnic distinctiveness,leading them to identify with a Russian civic identity. On the other,homogenizing policies, by downgrading ethnicity, have generated grievances,when such policies have been perceived as a form of repression. As such, thestatus quo does not guarantee long-lasting political stability.

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